January 30th - Step 22 on hiatus!

Ode to a cold....

My nose is stuffed
my headache pounds
the journey paused
'till health returns

(hopefully soon):-) meanwhile here's a quote for today:

January 27th - Step 21

So the cold bug has got me and I have to admit to not feeling very much like writing today but then again that's part of the process.  So here I am tucked up in bed, cat for company and a hot mug of tea.  I am not a good patient - impatience though does not serve me well and I have learned that the quickest way to get better is to rest.  Hard to do for so many of us who are raising children and working full time.  Fortunately today is not a work day for me, my girls are old enough to not need too much  so taking time to rest won't be a problem and I recognize I am really fortunate.

The social justice advocate in me gets more than a little angry when I think about the numbers of families and women around the globe who don't have this option.

These thoughts bring me to a place of reflection, of thanks and seriously counting my blessings.  Prayer has been an important factor in  my life for as long as I can remember.  I am not a member of a church and when I am asked what religion I am I say none. I was raised in the Christian Tradition.  I believe that all belief which leads to compassion, ethical practice and a better world for all will promote internal and social health and wellness.  Therefore I see including prayer from that perspective an important ingredient in the recipe for health and wellness.

My prayers are usually small mutterings at the end of the day - saying thanks for our home, our family, our food, our friends and even if the day has not gone so well, I find it helpful and helps me to sleep better if I still say thanks for what has gone well and ask for guidance in matters where I have no control.  Of course this supposes a belief in an external deity and for me this is a natural part of my make up.  I have always beieved in the existence of a God but not necessarily God as defined by any one religion. 

However saying thank you does not require belief in an existence of an external deity. I think gratitude and an awareness of appreciation for our natural resources; the things we are able to do, the people we love brings us closer together and naturally releases good energy in ourselves and for others.  In the documentary "What the Bleep do we know" the director recorded an experiment in prayer in Washington resulted in  measureably less crime being committed.  The film also showed evidence that water that is nurtured physically changes.  I am not a metaphysicist and there are many mor educated people writing about this but to me, it offers simple evidence that good thoughts can make things better and improve our individual and collective health and wellbeing.

Step 21 Exercise

Consider, if you don't already, introducing a night time ritual of saying thanks for people and events that occurred during the day.  It doesn't matter how small and sometimes the simple things are the things that are most important to remember.  I remember giving a child in Romania an orange many years ago when Romania was under the rule of a cruel dictatorship - his eyes lit up and mine filled with tears.  It seemed such a simple gift. I still say thank you for that moment of teaching.

Watch, if you haven't seen it "What the Bleep do we know".


Writing this on a tiny notebook with a serious cold


Not having my computer to work on
Having a bad cold

Quote for Today

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, it will be enough.”
Meister Eckhart

January 26th - Step 20   A Fierce and Fiery Dragon am I!

The year of the Dragon, specifically the water dragon which, it is said,  brings people and communities closer together.  My ex has often called me a dragon which is not meant as a compliment.  However, if  I turn it around perhaps it's that I am strong, resilient and competent that bothers him the most:-)   I have also been called formidable.  This was used to describe me in a letter to my professor at IATE - meant as a concern she whooped when she read the letter aloud and stated "congratulations, take it as a compliment!"

The mythical dragon has been given powers of both positive and negative energy.  They have been described as fierce and dangerous, as bringers of good fortune and luck and endowed with mystical and spiritual powers over humans and other animals.

At our mums group today we pondered the question individually "if I were a dragon - what sort of dragon would I be?" We then traced and painted the dragons of our choosing - some were cartoon and cute, some were fierce and strong, others flew whimsically.  Each dragon representing characteristics and qualities of the artist.

So consider,  if you were a dragon what sort of a dragon you would be - what qualities and individual character traits do you bring to community, to relationships, to family and what do you most admire about yourself?

I will write up the full exercise for this on tomorrow's posting - in part because I am just coming down with a cold and my head is pounding first challenge and because my second challenge is that my computer has crashed so I am sneaking this post in on my daughter's notebook and she would like it back!

So before tomorrow make a start on thinking about your unique dragonly qualities and record your successes and challenges for today.

I will be back tomorrow - but before I go here's the quote for the day:

"We're our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves."
Tom Robbins

January 25th - Step 19 - Handling conflict

There have been a few relationships in my life, personal, professional and familial which are best described as high conflict.  I used to think I managed conflict well when in fact I avoided it and side stepped the issue.  Usually that resulted in becoming stressed. Not a great strategy at all and certainly a contributor to dis ease and unhappiness - even if I was smiling.

I am really fortunate right now to work in a positive professional environment where, if we don't agree on a topic we have a safe enough process to be able to speak our own and listen to - and hear - others opinions.  I have worked in other organizations where this is not the case and have usually left as a result of the lack of ethical practice or because I felt so stressed and didn't want to be there.  In one case I tried to change the status quo and was fired.

In my work oftentimes one of the contributing factors to families needing support is conflict - either with a government organization, within their own family or within themselves.  

Conflict can be a really healthy tool within a team, in a family, even within oneself when it is managed well and others are treated respectfully and their views given equal status.  In oneself it can spur us on to acts of amazing creativity, generosity or to take a positive risk.  However when the opposite occurs, colleagues are bullied or their views dismissed, and internally it becomes the reason we stay stuck in victim - blaming others for our circumstances.  When we are surrounded by unhealthy and conflicted relationships the chances of a healthy and balanced life is not too likely and not managing conflict well can lead to a serious health risk both mentally and physically.

Ex partners, children, work colleagues, being audited, an accident, money matters - there are so many ways that conflict can and does enter our every day lives.  How we handle the conflict is what make the difference to our health and happiness.  Understanding our conflict style, considering whether they are effective or we need to consider trying things differently in those given situations, will go a long way to help.

Step 19 Exercise

Review the links below and consider your conflict style - how you handle conflict. Think about a situation that is ongoing or re-occurring in your life where conflict plays a big part and you are left feeling stressed, bullied or victimized. Consider whether trying a different style may help.  If the issue is causing you emotional or physical harm consider consulting a professional coach, trained in conflict resolution, to help you figure out ways to handle it.  My training includes managing conflict and I would be happy to hear from you at liza.miles1@gmail.com or recommend an alternative coach or professional organization.

www.wisc-online.com results

Quote for the Day

“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict - alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.”

 Dorothy Thompson quotes (American freelance writer, author of books for children, journalist and anthologist )

January 24th - Step 18.  Gimmeee chocolate:-)

I used to think of chocolate as a food group all of it's own - it was called necessary and I indulged in it almost daily.  Galaxy from the UK was my favourite.  North American chocolate is not quite so yummy (in my opinion) so living in Canada has curbed the temptation somewhat except when I am prepared to spend the extra on good quality chocolate. In Victoria I love Purdy's and Rogers chocolates.

I'm not sure when my chocoholism began but I remember days when I was a teen where I would literally crave chocolate.  Back then I didn't have a problem with weight and was pretty active so not too much damage except for spots - now I don't have spots but it sure slips on the hips easily.

However I think cutting something out of a diet completely, even whilst trying to loose weight is a set up for failure.  This is not wishful thinking - honest.  During a recent study Janet Polivy a researcher at the University of Toronto found that dieters were more likely to be successful by indulging in a little of something sweet or savory than to cut out that food altogether.  "When you cut something out of your diet, you're more likely to overeat it when you do encounter it."

I have managed to reduce the amount of chocolate I eat and the cravings for it by overall reducing the amount of sweet foods in my diet and replacing them with natural sugars.  A diet that does not include fruit would simply not work for me.  As I confessed in an earlier step when I am really stressed and the chocolate is there I can gorge with the best of them - but for the most part I keep a block of dark Lindt chocolate in my baking cupboard and limit myself to three squares when the chocolate fairy insists I indulge!  Making sure that I count those calories in and recording them rather than pretending oops I didn't did I!

For some people savory is equally as compelling as chocolate and those can really pack on the calories as well.  If crunch is the pay off try crudites or find some 100 calorie snack packs that work for you.  Ice-cream, savory chip and chocolate makers have caught on to this "include and reduce" style of weight loss so there are quite a lot of choices.

Changing our mindset is a really important factor in successful weight loss as well as maintaining a healthy weight and body style.  Working out your metabolism and calorie intake is important for success.

I am  still working on a five day gluten/wheat free weight loss plan which I will post - some fine tuning still needed so watch this space.  Of course if you are not gluten and wheat free it will still work for you with the added bonus of natural carbs.  And, Yay I lost another pound today - thanks to curves yesterday and staying within my calorie limit.

Knowing what foods we consume and what foods make us feel good vs fatigued or bloated is going to promote health and wellness and greatly contribute to overall happiness. If weight loss is not one of your goals,  I have suggested an alternative in the step 18 exercise below.

 Step 18

Weight Loss - make a list of all the foods you like to eat, ones you can't imagine life without and foods which you aren't bothered about and eat because they are important for balance or are a habit.

Create a spreadsheet - just as if you were planning a budget and figure out how many empty calories you consume in an average week (not one where there is a special celebration), how many nutritional calories you eat and how many calories are in liquid intake such as tea/coffee with milk or cream, beer, wine, soda etc.  To help you figure out calories visit http://www.thecaloriecounter.com/

Non weight loss - make a list of all the foods you like to eat, ones you can't imagine life without and foods which you aren't bothered about and eat because they are important for balance or are a habit.  Think about how much liquid intake you consume and include healthy (water and non healthy (soda) drinks.  What foods/drinks contribute to your overall health and well being and what foods might you consider reducing.


Eating wheat and gluten free
Staying within my calorie limit
NOT having carrot cake at dinner when everyone else was - I had 3 squares of dark Lindt instead


Wanting the carrot cake
Making time to write today - I worked until 7:00pm 
Folding the laundry - it's still on the couch :-(
The mess my teen made in two different bathrooms - ahhhh!

Quote for the Day

“Live simply so others may simply live.” 
― Mother Teresa

January 23rd - Step 17  Shake your booty!

OK so plan B into action today.  I managed to fit in 30 mins at Curves, despite having little time between finishing work, household chores and driving my daughter.  No plan B and likely curves would have been put off:-).

I have decided to add a weekly walk to get prepared for my 10K goal and I know I won't do this alone, so I've sent out an appeal for a weekly walking buddy.  To be really honest, whilst I enjoy walking I find it hard to motivate myself.  A bit like going to see a good movie, I can do it alone but I enjoy it so much better when I don't .

After I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 I was determined to survive and I made a daily walk a part of my routine.  The woman I used to walk with has since moved back to the UK and other walking buddies have not worked out due to schedules.  I love Curves but I also enjoy being outside so walking is a great second activity for once or twice a week.

Apart from Curves and walking I enjoy dance/movement - but don't do it often enough, riding my bike - which I do in the good weather with the girls and our Wii fit game.  So I'm a little limited in the activities I like to do being more creative than a mover and shaker.  However I think that's really important to recognize - and helps with the commitment when I commit to something I enjoy for physical health rather than berating myself for not being sporty.

Step 17 - create your own exercise plan

Whether weight loss is one of your goals or not regular exercise is important for overall health and well being.  If you don't already have an exercise plan think about activities that you like and enjoy doing and consider how to increase them or add in a second or third activity.  If you have a friend or family member who can can do them with you, you may find that this helps the motivation if that's part of the problem.  If you don't know someone try putting out a request on Facebook or post an ad at work for a lunchtime get fit buddy.

Here are some suggestions for free/cheap exercise and workout plans:

Join a local rec. centre and use their facilities - good way to meet others.  If cost is a barrier see if the rec. centre has a free fitness pass or if you are in BC ask for a LIFE Pass.  That offers 52 free drop in sessions per year.

Join a walking or running clinic.  Rec centres and sports shoe stores offer these programs.

Set a goal.  For example to join in a 5 or 10k walk or run for charity and start getting ready for the event.

Become a dragon boater

Put on some of your favourite music and dance dance dance for 20 minutes

Yoga - there are some free or inexpensive programs through rec. and community centres available.

Create a 10 minute exercise routine and repeat it often throughout the week

Pick up a free exercise bike - I see many of these out on the roads in the spring/summer

Ride a bike

Always take the stairs at work rather than the elevator

Get Wii fit/just dance or X box dance program

Plan ahead and put in your schedule when where and how you are going to exercise and don't forget to include a plan B for those extra busy days and times.

Find a fitness buddy or buddies

Successes today (remember to record yours it's good to look back on them):

Going to Curves - Yay!
Putting the walking buddy request "out there"
Making time to relax and hang out with my girls


Getting caught up with being grumpy about small things
Procrastination - admin stuff
Wanting to do some art and not doing it because I have to do the washing - people need clothes.....

Quote for the Day

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” 
― A.A. Milne

January 21/22 - Step 16 - Food glorious food!

Just made some of the yummiest rice krispie squares - not exactly healthy but simply delicious and much needed on a windy drookle day.  We had a power out for most of it so the girls and I ended up at the mall spending my winnings from yesterdays lucky windfall at the casino.  Don't panic its not something I do too often but it's fun once in a while.  Yesterday my friend and I took our $20 - the maximum I'll ever spend - and had three hours of fun.  I came away with $150 and, after buying her dinner, felt very happy with my profit:-).

I really wanted to order a hamburger and asked the server if they could wrap it in lettuce for me because I am wheat and gluten free.  When she came back she told me that chef recommended I stay away from the burger because of the wheat fillers in the burgers.  Another time, at Whistler, I tried to order chili, and was told the same - wheat filler.  So, be careful out there what we think we are eating may not be the whole story.

I have become used to taking longer now to grocery shop because, although I cook most things from scratch, there are foods I buy for the girls lunches and snacks etc. which I take the time to read the labels on. My eldest is seeing our Naturopath doctor  in a couple of weeks for a health check and to talk about eczema, so I am wondering whether diet and what she eats  plays a part in that.  I try to shop as ethically as I can too - always buy free run or free range eggs, local chicken and beef and milk.  However things that I hadn't thought about such as cheese and yogurt are apparently from cows that live in factory farms - the farms that I am attempting to avoid.

When I visited my mum in England last Spring, I ate a ton of food and drunk quite a bit too (well when in Rome as they say :-)) and I didn't put on a single pound.  However here I put on pounds at the drop of a hat.  So I am guessing that lots of food over here has fillers and stuff I just don't know I am eating.  I know that lots of people think the Brits can't cook - but really, when the food is cooked well it tastes lots better.  I think the same is true in Mediterranean Europe too.

So where am I going with this?  Well, trying to loose weight and then having fillers snuck into what we eat is going to be a problem - even if you aren't wheat and gluten free.  You could add up the calories of a burger purely based on meat, which would be reasonable, but now we have to include calories for fillers.  At least when you tuck into a home made rice krispie square you know you are eating empty calories, but sometimes we all need a sweet treat.  So long as you count the calories within your weight loss goals, make sure to exercise, and don't repeat the treat daily, you will still loose weight.  It's all about balance:-)

Step 16 - Exercise and Meal Plan

As I mentioned a couple of days ago I haven't lost a pound this week.  Well, I haven't been to curves either and in part the snow storm, my daughters dance performances and work took priority I didn't make the effort to include this self care for me.  It's a fine line between taking care of my family and taking care of me - if I don't do the latter the family will suffer too.  Cranky mum when I'm not in good shape!  So step 16 is to look at a back up plan for exercise and eating when our normal schedule is interrupted.  For example maybe you are going on a business trip and will be eating out - how will that impact your weight loss goals - no plan and plan to fail as they say.  A back up plan is necessary because there is always going to be something come up in the weeks or months ahead that could derail us off our journey and goals.  Try to identify ways to exercise, eat healthily and make time for you by looking at your schedule over the next months and make a back up plan around holidays, festivals, a family get together and extra busy times.  Think of this like the emergency preparedness bag - you may not need it but it's great to have just in case.


Spending a relaxing day with the girls
Making time to write
Eating wheat and gluten free
Housework - Yay!


Not exercising today or all week = no back up plan!

Quote for the Day

What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease.
George Dennison Prentice

Friday January 20th - Step 15 - Challenges, blessings and balance.

Aaaah worst nightmare had this ready to go and last night I lost my input - I guess that' was my challenge for yesterday.  Honestly though yesterday was filled with so many unexpectedly good things, when it happened it was OK.    What I learned from that was how important it is to recognize when I am having a good day versus a bad day and that when I get into a grump on a bad day - when things out of my control go awry, it's OK.   I don't have to make myself "count my blessings" on a bad day.  However if I recognize the day for what it was then I can set closure around it.  That stops it leaking and creating a bad week - which I have been want to do in the past!

My unexpectedly good day included meeting a really good friend for Tea - her treat :-), a tax rebate which was a lot more than I thought it was going to be and treating myself and my eldest to a "do" at the hairdresser.  The younger is getting a new jacket, so no-one's left out!  The challenge was making sure that in the excitement of the rebate I kept to my budget (which I did), putting 20% aside and getting caught up on bills.

I have to confess to getting a little irritated by the "happiness is good for you" hype that ignores the times and days when we simply are not happy.  I think it is more important to address the thought and the reality of the situation and address the root of the challenge.  That will, in the long run, lead to peace of mind, inner contentment, thus happiness.

I realize that what I have just written may sound a little contradictory when the premise of this journey is to find happiness but I am not into quick fixes that mask a problem because the problem will just come back differently. On the other hand we don't want to continually be anticipating banana skins that make us slip and fall. :-) So here's the exercise:

Step 15

On a sheet of paper write the days of the week horizontally along the top.  At the side draw a vertical line  and write happiness/balance at the side also vertically.  Make a horizontal line joining that one, at the bottom of the sheet and write challenges underneath it. Either review your past week or note daily during this week to come and create a graph about where you are on the happiness scale and what days have more challenges in them.  Did/do the challenges decrease your balance and happiness?  Consider and write on a different sheet of paper where the challenges are and how often they repeat themselves.  Which ones are in your control and which ones are not. Note how you feel doing this exercise.  Is it hard, is it easy?  We will be re-visiting this exercise for one week each month.  I am hoping that by the end of our journey yo will notice that inner balance does not decrease dramatically in times of challenge.


The ones I mentioned above pretty much cover it
Eating wheat and gluten free all week - yesterday I found simply delicious gluten free bagels at a local coffee shop "Francheli's" in Royal Oak).  I will post more information about where they get them later.


Not getting to Curves all week - though I plan to make it on Saturday
Sticking to my weight loss plan and not losing any more weight (probably linked to not going tp curves!)
Fighting with myself about needs rather than wants.

Quote for the Day

The Serenity Prayer.....  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

January 19th - Step 14.  Time to Celebrate!

OK half way through the number of days it takes to create a habit.  Staying with the original goal plan, making a few adjustments, doing a reality check and (in my case) losing a few pounds is definitely something to celebrate and even if that's celebrated by only by a note on the calendar, it IS worth recording.

Giving myself a pat on the back - giving yourself a pat on the back is  sooo important for soooo many reasons.  One of the reasons oftentimes I give up is because I don't think I'm worth it or nothing seems to be happening.  The weight isn't shifting, the savings aren't growing, I'm not feeling happier etc. etc.  But miracles sadly don't happen overnight they take a little longer.  Therefore celebrating and noting the commitment is essential as a motivator.

Personally I like to find small things to celebrate throughout the year and especially in January which can be a bit gloomsville after the excesses of Christmas and New Year.  Of course the Chinese have their New Year coming up and no doubt there are some big sporting events which can become an occasion for getting together and celebrating.

So, I'm planning to create a few different celebrations to mark "rites of passage" on my journey to an Inner Fiji.  For example when I get to the 10lb goal I set at curves I will invite some friends over for chocolate martinis.....or some other delectable treat.  Challenging myself to do something I have never done before when I have six months of sticking to my budget/spending plan that costs less than $20.00:-).  Taking my daughters and I for a spa day (more than $20:-)) when I reach the half way mark on the journey - yay only 168 more steps to go!

Step 14

Think about the important goals you have set yourself and create a plan to celebrate choose somethingyou WILL do when you reach the goal.  Additionally try and find something each month that you can reward yourself with just for staying on the journey or accomplishing certain aspects of your overall goal.
Finally make sure you make a note that this is day 14 and pat yourself on the back.  You are working towards what is important for yourself.  That's worth noting and celebrating.  Congratulations.


Eating wheat and gluten free all week
Making time to write


Not making time for Curves - using my daughters dance performance schedule as an excuse :-(

Comments - if you want to post a comment and are having problems please email me your comments to liza.miles1@gmail.com and I will post them or see Mikes tips for posting on Jan 13th blog.

Quote for the Day

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” - Mahatma Gandhi.

January 18th - Step 13  -  Money money money..........

Welcome back - or if you are joining us for the first time, welcome!  The blog is intended as a 365 days journey to health and wellness, a happier with yourself you!  Fiji is supposedly the happiest place on earth - sorry Mickey and friends - hence the title.  If you are new, check out the previous exercises included in the earlier steps.

In earlier steps I have touched on some of the issues and challenges that can result in problems with our weight, mental health and general well being and happiness - today I am going to write about money.

I own up, I have, in the past proved to be "useless" with money.  Finally at age 54 I am trying to get a grip and stop telling myself "always have been always will be" and create positive change in my beliefs and approach to financial health and literacy.

Over the years I have opened numerous savings accounts, invested in the stock market, bought and sold houses and apartments.  Yet, honestly when I get paid tomorrow I will be paying all that money out for rent and bills and  my savings and chequing accounts will be back to pretty much 0 again!  It sucks and, I created the pattern.  Whilst as a single mum I only have one income  that contributes to a  lack of excess, it is not the root of the problem.  I think the problem started when I didn't take the time to appreciate money as a privilege and a resource.  Just like gold or oil or copper found in the ground, if the resources are used wisely they will create wealth and if not, they won't.

Whilst I can't control the extenuating circumstances such as medical bills for my family when Mum and Dad were in Canada, allowing myself to be duped by a buyer and loosing the home I had purchased, having to take extensive time off work to recover form cancer surgeries, taking trips back to the UK to see my mum -  I can control making poor decisions based on emotion,  greed, a need to "fit in" or feeding the instant gratification monster:-).

So, here's the plan.  For every dollar I earn I am going to squirrel 10% into an "I can't get my hands on it" account.  It IS going to be tough but probably the toughest part is that I won't have dollars to fritter away.  It's true that we all need treats but I rather think I was using those "treats" as a way to avoid the problem.  I also have a bad habit of trying to save for something and then just using money that I haven't saved to do or buy whatever....which is may be something that is a want not a need. Changing this habit and the mindset is challenging because I am generous by nature and like to get caught up in the moment - that's where the emotional spending comes in.  Finding ways to still be generous and joining in social activities may mean saying no to some things and finding other ways to accommodate the social and emotional need.

I am also going to put another 5% by for those rainy day needs or emergencies that come up from time to time and 5% into a birthday/Christmas/treat fund.  I can feel the hairs on the back of my head standing up - that's 20% of my current limited income I can't spend - but guess what I do spend that money but I spend it in a way that contributes to financial insecurity, rather than security - and yes, I agree money is not everything.  Now I am going to divide the rest up into household bills and expenses, recreation expenses for the girls and my curves membership which I have decided is a need for maintaining good health. If there is anything left over I will donate 10% to a charity of my choice and what remains is for treats/social activities.

Step 13

Even if money is not an issue for you, consider your relationship with money.  What is working well and what you might want to change.  Consider supporting a local charity if you have excess and don't currently gift in  an intentional, rather than emotional, way. If you are looking for a good cause visit local not for profits and see what they do.

If you do have financial problems consider whether my plan above will help or find a local credit counselling agency to assist you make a credit proposal or come up with a healthy budget vs spending plan.

Many local agencies and not for profits offer free workshops about money and even if you are broke going to see someone at your bank or credit union is free.  They may be able to help you reduce interest payments or consolidate a loan.  Make an appointment with someone you trust and create a financial wellness review.

January is a good time to review spending habits - and put plans into action.  Here's to a wealthier you!

Successes today.....

Writing about my least favourite subject and coming up with a plan

Celebrating a "snow day" at home, thanks to my wonderful boss and enjoying being with the girls

Making delicious gluten free brownies - see recipe at  http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2006/01/dark-chocolate-brownies.html


Putting off cleaning up the office - yep it's still a mess:-)

Going out in the snow (I like to look at it).  Thanks to my wonderful neighbour  who had spare milk I did't have to.......

Quote for the day:

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and sixpence, result happiness.  Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and sixpence result misery."  Charles Dickens.

January 17th - Step 12  "Oh lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz..."

If you were born anytime before the sixties you'll know the rest - for you youngsters out there the words are most famously sung by Janis Joplin.  I loved her voice and although the song isn't really a prayer when I watch old clips of her performing I think of a prayer - especially when she sings the line "prove that you love me"...http://www.youtube.com/artist/Janis_Joplin?feature=watch_video_title

I believe that the creative process whether we sing, dance, paint or make pots, create films, act, scrapbook or write poetry is an act of love that brings us closer to understanding who we are on the inside. Therefore when we make time to include creativity on our journey to health, wellness,  inner happiness and contentment,  our creativity becomes an act of courage.

"Finally, creativity is an act of bravery.  It states: I am willing to risk ridicule and failure  so that I may experience this day with newness and freshness.  The person who dares to create, to break boundaries, not only partakes of a miracle, but also comes to realize that in his process of being, he is a miracle". Joseph Zinker (from creative process in gestalt therapy)

Janis Joplin had courage - she was a female singer in a fairly male dominated profession, she did not pretty herself up - she was herself, warts and all.  Sadly her creative journey came to an end and the "dis" ease of her life triumphed over the potential she had through her voice However her voice lives on through film and recording and in that way she has left us her legacy.

Sadly I hear from many of the families - mums and dads and even youth - that I work with,  "oh I'm not creative" . Where on earth does that thought come from, I wonder - usually aloud!.  Creativity surely is the very essence of humanity.  If we weren't creative we would never have discovered fire, built the wheel, discovered how to create wonderful cuisine.  So, if you are having that thought right now - even a little bit, STOP.  YOU ARE CREATIVE.  Perhaps you haven't discovered or given time to let that important aspect of you out of the closet.  Perhaps you liked making tings when you were young but some not so helpful adult told you that you needed to stop wasting time and do your homework :-).  Perhaps you feel embarrassed by the sketches or watercolours that don't come out on paper the way you imagined them in your head - but that's OK. Think about ways in which you are creative, or would like to be.  Maybe you've dreamed of making a really fancy cake, or making something out of wood and that brings us to step 13....

Step 12

Think about something you would like to make, do, a secret talent that you have  - or even don't know you have but would like to try and give yourself permission to make time to include that in your life.  It doesn't matter how big or small the project you come up with is, the important thing is that you engage with it.  If you already use your creativity in a specific way, try something different - something you have always wanted to do but haven't made time for.  Now set a date for how and when you will start the project and a timeline for
when you will complete the first of (hopefully) many.

Thursday is step 14 Well done us - and that's an accomplishment to celebrate so we will.  YAY US!


Going to see my daughter's dance performance
Cleaning up the re-cycling room :-)
Making time to write and have the courage to put some very personal thoughts "out there"
Not giving in to chocolate cravings


Wanting more chocolate
The washing pile - clean but not organized
Not getting to curves this week so far

Quote for the day

"Playing the Piano is like making love, it fills me completely with joy"  Arthur Rubinstein


January 16th - Step 11  Living to work or working to live?

My older daughter is at the age where we are seriously talking about what she wants to do in her future.  She has for the longest time wanted to be a designer and she also loves dance.  I think either of those would be wonderful pursuits to follow and whatever field she finally chooses it is likely she will have more than one career during her life time.  Just like her mum:-)  Of course back in the day, as a "failed grade 11+ student" I was supposed to be factory fodder, a secretary or possibly a nurse.  My ambitions were however higher and I through default luck and tenacity have worked in advertising, as a researcher and director in documentary film making in the UK,  founder of a UK not for profit , as an art therapist in private practice and now in social services at Saanich Neighbourhood Place and co-founder of ARCC Society. Interestingly and perhaps not surprisingly I find the skills that I needed in my past jobs are equally relevant and important in the work I currently do.

To me the changes have been organic, for example it was whilst I was making a film at Parkhurst prison I discovered art therapy.  Being laid off when TVS lost their license, thanks "Mrs. T" - led to training as an art therapist and going on a retreat led to creating an arts therapy program for prisoners which led to more training and eventually ending up in non profit social service work. Being a single mum means working full time and putting ambitions to write full time on hold - recording all the wonderful little tidbits of life that will come out some time in the future and having breast cancer taught me the value of making time to rest, be with my family and make time for creativity.

I guess where I am going with this thought is the importance of being in the moment and being open and thankful for all and any opportunity that comes along.  In the best interests of our health and well being how we spend our time "doing" affects how we are. Of course when we are in survival mode for basic needs and in the midst of a crisis being in the moment is probably not a reality which is why it's really helpful to have what we are thankful for, when we are not in crisis mode, written down.  A few years ago I wrote a book for children called an ABC of Thanks in Prayer.  It was ALMOST published but then it wasn't so, it sits in my laptop and, I hope will see the light of day sometime soon, or perhaps it will become an e book - who knows!  Anyway, it was wonderful to write about all the little things that a child - or any of us - might be thankful for at the end of the day.

Recently on CBC I listened to an interview with a  young female singer/actor Andrea Menard who lives in Vancouver .  Andrea and her co-writer Robert Walsh wrote a song entitled Sparkle.  As I listened to the song it's lyrics took me a to a place of thankfulness and it quite transformed my day which had been full of housework, and the daily grind.

The Step 11 exercise  is to click on the following link and  listen to the song which Andrea and Robert have kindly provided.:

3463K   Play   Download
written by Andrea Menard and Robert Walsh, SOCAN

 I love the idea that one sparkle creates another and we all sparkle together.  Or, find a song that takes you to a place of thankfulness - even if right now you are not feeling very thankful.  Record the moment and remember the song.  Next time you are in a crisis, make time to listen to this song or one you chose  or look at the lyrics.  Remembering that our thoughts control our feelings.  Making time for this activity will help reduce stress and anxiety, bring us back to the moment and give us time to organize our thoughts and cope with whatever life is throwing at us in that particular moment.

Namas Day

What are your successes today?  What were the challenges?  Here are mine:


Completing some unfinished work projects
Making a delicious dinner from leftovers
Enjoying my daughters excitement as they watched the snow fall


Grocery shopping with an almost empty bank account:-)
Making time to write today

Quote for Today:

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.
Oprah Winfrey

Jan 14th/15th - Step 10.   Return of the cookie monster!

OK confession time - not quite cookies but I managed to finish a bag of smarties left over from the Christmas cookie baking.  Earlier I was celebrating another pound dropped off and joining "on the bandwagon" at curves to loose 10lbs by April 13th.

Now I have sore gums from the excess of sugar and the onset of a headache - such joy!

One bag of smarties is not the end of my weight loss goals and acting on that thought is going to contribute to ongoing success. Of course it's always tempting when I have a trip up to give up but that is certainly not going to take me in the direction of my inner Fiji.  So the cupboards will be cleared of temptation and my headache is a very good reminder not to repeat the excess anytime soon!

There is no doubt, in my opinion, that the process of attaining goals of any sort will be beset with challenges of one sort or another and it is how we approach the challenges and handle them that is really important.  In this case I know that having chocolate lurking about is always a temptation, so not having the chocolate here is a good strategy for me.  When over spending or using credit cards/ATM is a problem try only using cash and putting the credit cards in a bank deposit box.  Ice in the freezer melts too easily!  Find a strategy that works for you. Don't beat yourself up if you give in - just don't make that the reason for not continuing.  Having a friend or family member that you are accountable to or joining weight watchers can help and making sure you set realistic goals (I know I am repeating here but it is sooo important for success).

Signing for "on the bandwagon" at curves makes me accountable and is a helpful motivator as I see all the other people signed up and the weight loss goals they have recorded.  At my weigh and measure last Friday I was thrilled to have lost a solid just over 10 pounds (4.5 since my last weigh in) and 6.2 inches. During that time (apart from during Christmas) I  reduced my calorie intake averagely by between 250 and 500 per day.  I eat three meals per day plus snacks and with the exception of wheat and gluten free foods do no omit anything from my diet.  I always have a minimum of 5 fruits and vegetables, at least five glasses of water and two glasses of green tea.  For protein I use flax seeds (on yogurt or in a fruit salad), fresh cooked meats, cheese, eggs and quinoa.

The following website is very helpful for information about healthy weight loss:


What resources/people/groups do have have in your life to help you achieve your weight loss and or other goals?  Who and where are your cheerleaders?  If you are on this journey you also have me and this community - people from around the world you don't even know - to cheer you on Yay!!

Step 10 Exercise

Create a visual map of your personal support system. Draw yourself or a symbol of yourself in the middle of a sheet of paper and put in circles around you the people/places/groups who can help you reach your goals. Connect them with coloured lines.

We need community whether that is made up of family and friends or churches or mosques or strangers or clubs - it doesn't matter who or where what matters is that they believe in you and YOU believe in YOURSELF.  Date the map and keep with the other lists and pieces of art.

Next blog will be posted on Monday so wishing you a happy Sunday - wherever you are and whatever you do.  Don't forget to record your success today and challenges.  Here are mine:


Facilitating art therapy students in group process at BC School of Art Therapy
Cooking a yummy breakfast for the girls and I
Making time to watch a Woody Allen/BBC production


The smarties:-(
Procrastination - housework and the washing pile!

Quote for the Day:

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

January 13th - Step 9 .   TGIF!  Making time to relax.

Usually Friday is my day "off".  I manage my hours for the non profit I work for into four days and try to dedicate Friday to writing, taking care of personal stuff and relaxing somewhat.  I'm fortunate to have a boss who is flexible and lets me do this and it's a big part of how I take care of myself.   I am also passionate about art therapy and how  our creative and imaginative self is such a wonderful healer.  Picasso talked about art as "the unthought known" .  I have experienced first hand, and with clients, the truth of those words.  Anyway I have committed to teaching students at the BC School of Art Therapy this afternoon and for the next two afternoons so my relax "me time" is compromised somewhat, save that I love the subject ad sharing that passion with others.

I also love that Friday is our family movie night - the girls and I tuck up under blankets and chow down on popcorn,  hot chocolate for the girls and a glass (or two) or Merlot for mumsy.  The important thing is that we are enjoying something together and relaxing - taking a break from the world.

Creating a space in the week for relaxing is really important, especially if you are raising children.   It's good modelling for children to see parents taking care of themselves.  When I teach parenting courses, facilitate groups for women and mothers or talk publicly I refer to the airplane model of self care - put the oxygen mask on you BEFORE you help someone else.  If we run ourselves ragged caring for others we are no use.  Same goes for employment if we are over worked we are less effective. Taking care of you first is NOT selfish, it is  essential  to keep you sane, healthy and lets you be your best self.  If my girls were writing they would say that when I am over stressed I am not a nice mummy to be around!

Step 9 Exercise

Make a date with yourself every week for the remaining weeks of the year that is just for you.  Maybe you'll commit to lunch with a girlfriend, visit a spa, a walk/run or hike in your favourite place with family or friends.  Maybe it's simply sitting in a bubbly bath and reading your favourite book and treating yourself to a yummy drink or a square of dark chocolate.  Whatever floats your boat - make that date - maybe you will do something different each week.  Make a note afterwards of the activities that really helped you relax and feel good.  Making a set date for this time is important. If we don't write it down and make the date - really it will never happen.  It has taken me a while to get used to saying "no" to things on Fridays save the things I know will make me happy.  Thinking of all the things you might like to do will hopefully put a smile on your face and if it doesn't or is too hard consider why.  Talk to a coach (you can email me at Liza.miles1@gmail.com) or I can help you find another professional - perhaps a friend can help. Taking care of you is taking care of others.

Successes today - 

Gong to Curves - yay 3 times this week now
Resisting a slice of left over pizza :-). Letting my daughter take it to school for lunch.
Making time to write this and enough time for a bubble bath before I go teach!


I really wanted the pizza so I'm dealing with cravings :-(
Admin stuff that I have not completed/guilt about the bath
Making time for me vs making phone calls.

Quote for the day:

"For fast acting relief try slowing down"  Lily Tomlin

Comments - so it seems that posting comments is complicated - groan.  Below are some tips from a friend who has posted.  If you want to post a comment - and I'd love that but cannot take the time to figure it out send me an email and I will create a comments page.  Send email with "comment" in the subject line to: liza.miles1@gmail.com

Mikes suggestions for posting (thanks Mike)

If you Sign In (top left of blog page), then that will take care of it.

There are several ways to tell the blog who you are - the way I used was to create an account on Blogspot (without starting a blog) and Sign In using my Google account (gmail, in this case). This may be the simplest, especially if you already have a Google account, since it seems Blogspot is either part of Google, or at least under their umbrella. When you create the account, you can put in as much or as little info about yourself as you wish, which could be viewed by someone who reads your comments.

If you have a Google account, you can not sign in to the blog, and when posting a comment, choose the Google Account profile choice - the blog will send you to Google to sign in, then back to the blog to finish your comment.

However, there are a number of other ways to confirm identity, and that is what the blog is asking when it wants your user profile. Other ways include being a user on certain other blogs (such as WordPress or Livejournal), or by using OpenID.

January 12 - Step 8  Believe it and say it like you mean it!

"Its not what you say its the way that you say it and that's what gets results" - remember the 80's disco song?  Recently I had a conversation with a friend about belief systems.  Belief systems don't just belong to organized religion and sometimes I shock myself when I realize that I believe something about an individual, a group of people or a topic that I don't really know too much about out of fear.

The same is true when I think about what I have, in the past, believed about myself.  Honestly for a number of years I thought and believed that I needed to be something different/better/cleverer than I am to fit in, so that was the tape that played on and on in my head.  And the words got their predicted results they ended up creating that reality because I believed it would be so.

Here are a couple of personal examples from my past:  Belief: I have a fat body type.  Underlying fear:  being thin  would attract another abusive relationship.  Belief: I cannot afford time or $'s to complete academic programs.  Underlying fear: I will fail the exam.  Belief: I  always have to appear to be in control of my life in public. Underlying fear:  I don't want to look stupid.

Beliefs about ourselves usually come from other people - they can be positive, helpful and nurturing and they can be like a sharp painful sword, cutting us off from our ability to perform, function, and achieve our personal best. In gestalt therapy this is described as an interruption to the process of completion - of wholeness.  The underlying fear enters each time we step around the cycle towards wholeness and we remain stuck.

Developing or reigniting critical thinking skills, reading, exploring alternative thoughts will challenge our inherent beliefs. This is an uncomfortable process because it means making changes, shifts in our current way of doing and being.  Change not only affects us, it has an impact on others close to us.  It may mean the end of a friendship or taking on a different role in a family. Other may not be happy that we are making changes. yet, ultimately those changes will create healthier and happier relationships.  Saying and practicing what we would like to believe is helpful whilst on the journey towards change.  Saying it out aloud,  shouting it at the mirror, singing it - whatever works for you will get results. Over time the old beliefs become silent and the new beliefs the ones that you own, that are authentically yours, will flourish.

Step 8 Exercise

Reflect on things that you believe about yourself that are holding you back from making changes you want and identify the underlying fear.  This exercise sounds simple and the reality is like all simple things it can be hard.  You may need more than one sit down session to do it and I encourage you to be gentle on yourself.
Keep this list with the others and art pieces from earlier steps.  Write on index cards or pieces of papers the opposite of the beliefs and underlying fears.  Example: I am on my way to my weight loss goals.  I will enjoy being in good health when I am slimmer. Put the cards in a place where you can see them daily and remember to say them out loud.  It is important to both say them and write them down.

Time to record our successes - here are mine

Making lunch to take with me and taking a break

Wheat and gluten free all day (resisting yummy cookies at a school dance performance this evening)

Handling a professional conflict situation calmly and reaching out for support


Time to write and complete family and professional commitments

Quote for the day:

"Believe in yourself!  Have faith in your abilities!  Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own
powers you cannot be successful or happy."  Norman Vincent Peale, author.

January 11th - Step 7   A Place of Possibilities

OK, so if you are counting the steps daily you are correct - we skipped a day.  I needed to take time for me to recover from a very challenging day at work trying to support a family who were falling through the cracks.  Advocacy can be exhausting and writing anything yesterday would just have been a diatribe of how frustrating the so called "support systems" are sometimes.  

The problem continues but through tenacity and the assistance of some like minded and excellent people also frustrated by the system we managed to create the beginnings of a solution.  It was a good reminder for me as a real life experience just how full our brains become when there is no seeming solution to a problem especially when the problem is a basic need.  When I co-facilitate training for coaches who are going to work with mothers with an addiction, mental health and or FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) diagnosis,  one of the modules in the training  includes Maslows Hierarchy of Needs - the precept of which is that without basic needs being met self actualization cannot occur.  (For information about this program visit: www.arccsociety.com)

In my opinion the same thing occurs when we become anxious, do not accept a situation or ourselves and resort to old patterns of dealing with things. That can be especially risky for anyone with an addiction.  The temptation to have several drinks, take drugs, sleep, eating, excessive spending or gambling as a way to avoid the problem.  

One of the concerns I have heard from people who do not want to attend AA or NA is that they do not agree with the fact that step one includes the word powerless.  It's an interesting point and yet, I think, when we actually say we are powerless about something we want to change that is what opens the door for change.  We are not holding on to a "right way" of doing something we are letting go and letting the unknown which, certainly can be scary, take us to a place of possibilities a place of healing and change.  

If you have a concern about addiction either your own or someone close to you I suggest you check out a local AA, NA or Al-Anon program at www.aa.org. For a personal coach in the Victoria area or a coach who can work with you online contact Janet Christie at www.janetchristie.ca. or at www.arccsociety.com  

Step 7 Exercise:

On a sheet of  large paper draw a free-handed circle.  Inside that circle find something round and smaller that fits in it.  Now draw around this object.  Select a colour and colour in the space between the outer and inner circle.  Continue and repeat the free-hand and drawing round an object and colouring (using different colours) until the whole paper is filled up.  Now you should have (hopefully) at least six circles with five colours on the paper.  Consider how you feel?  Was drawing free handed more or less frustrating that drawing around the circular object?  What thoughts did you have when you stared the exercise and what thoughts do you have now?  Are you judging your page or judging the validity of the exercise?  Did you enjoy/dislike doing this?  Consider for yourself what the purpose of the exercise represents to you and keep that for later reference.  We will be discussing the exercise later in our journey so, as with the lists it's important for you to keep it safe.

Time for Successes - Here are mine for today

Going to curves - yay 2nd time this week
Asking my children for help with chores so I could go to curves
Not taking the work problem home with me
Making time to write this blog


Eating cheese when I was making dinner
Not making time for a break during the day and therefore not eating properly

Quote for today

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
Carl Rogers

Jan 9th - Step 6.  Keeping the Motivation

Around about now with the Christmas lights taken down and the bills from Christmas starting to pour in it may be that keeping motivation to make change starts to wain.  The kids are back in school, routines and work and general stuff and business all conspire to interrupt our best laid plans to do.....be...... make........etc etc.  The really important thing, from my perspective is not to set myself up to fail.  Expectations of ourselves and have you noticed just how hard we all are on ourselves, usually lead to disappointments.

How I (we) think about things dictates how I (we) feel about things.  If I think I can't do this or it's too hard, then I will think I am defeated and most likely give up.  I then feel disappointed, mad or sad and so the cycle begins. I have to keep reminding myself that - KISS (keeping it simple stupid) - is the most likely way to succeed and finish what I start. I can think myself into many complex reasons why something cannot be done - when oftentimes if only I would STOP thinking, the process toward completing would get along quite nicely.

So, if you find you are for what ever reason not able to follow the steps on a daily basis think about how often in a week you can do them. Make a plan that is realistic for you to stay with.   If you read the quote every day and that helps you reflect on something - that IS a success.  You are engaging in the process and working towards your goals. Hopefully you will then make time to do the exercises and follow them at your own pace. Remember we are only on day 6 and it takes at least five times as many days to create a habit!  If we were really on an actual walk we would all be walking at a different pace and that's OK!

And that's the exercise for today - to review your goals and make a plan that IS doable.  Review the original goals that you created at the beginning of our journey together.  Has anything shifted?  Is there anything that you want to change and consider why.  THINK about the goals.  Respond to your thoughts with how you feel. Are these thoughts and feeling familiar?  Once you have reviewed your goals re-write any changes to your plan.  Write down your thoughts and feelings.

If you find you need help consider contacting a professional coach or email me for individual coaching at Liza.miles1@gmail.com .  I also have a list of local and UK/USA professionals whom I trust to refer you to. You may need only one or two sessions to get you past this point.

Wheat and Gluten Free for Health Wellness and/or Weight Loss

OK so I promised more about eating gluten and wheat free.  If you are not eating carbs because you are following a non carb diet but not actually allergic or sensitive to wheat then the meal plans will also work for you.  You just won't have to worry about substituting things with wheat in them such as soy or Bisto.  Please note that I am not getting paid to sponsor any of the products that I may talk about or suggest and that all of the content of this blog is my own opinion.

For readers who want to follow this information specifically I have created a page with information about wheat and gluten free suggestions and a five day meal plan.  I will also continue to share some of my daily meals and any products that I find helpful.

There are tons of recipes on line and some of them are great but others I have found do not work well.  The recipes I suggest will all be the ones I have made and found to work.

Successes for today - list  minimum of three.  Here are mine

Going to curves
Making time to write this blog Keeping up my commitment)
Making time to spend time with my children and a friend in the midst of all the busyness
Taking a relaxing bath and reading Ian Rankin (love British Crime writers)


Ignoring laundry and other household stuff that bugs me
Recognizing that I am NOT superwoman :-)

Quote for the Day

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.  Eleanor Roosevelt

Jan 7th/8th - Step 5 - 3 pounds lighter Yipppeeee - I'm skipping to the beat!

We usually try to make our Christmas gifts.  One special gift I made this year for a very good friend was a tea tray covered in the lyrics from In My Life by The Beatles.

I like her choice of song.  When I listen to that song I reflect on all the lovely people and places I have known, and some of the not quite so lovely ones.  It's like a patchwork quilt where some of the fabrics and colours are stronger than others, but they all work together despite the differences.  Each piece was carefully cut and chosen and, for whatever reason, they are all necessary.

Music plays an important part in our overall health and well-being.  Songs, tunes, instruments all have the capacity to take us back in time, or to get us in touch with our thoughts and feelings. Music can capture our mood, even adjust our mood and invoke feelings and thoughts of the essence we experience in our unconscious. When I was training at the Institute for Arts in Therapy in the UK I remember having an almost trance like experience listening to Hildegard Von Bingen for the first time. It was quite magical.  However, in an art therapy group I was facilitating with sex trade workers the same music that had blessed and enriched me, seriously affected one of the girls who had been abused by a priest.  Later she was able to work though her trauma using art and listening to quite different music.  

When I go to curves the music is not always to my taste but the songs and the beat sure help me and stimulate me to work harder.  

The step five exercise today (yes another list) is to make a list of music and songs that you like and that contribute to your health and wellness and your happiness.  What music do you listen to when you are sad? Does the music help you reflect or does it make you sadder - in which case, as with the art therapy participant, find an alternative.  Something that will stimulate healing, not keep you stuck and down in the dumps.

Here is part of my list of music I find helpful to listen to to change my mood, stimulate or relax me:

Santana - Abraxis

Josh Gorban - Grateful

Led Zeppelin - almost anything

Bach - almost anything

Joni Mitchell

Louis Armstrong - Wonderful World

John Lennon - Imagine

The Beatles - LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

Hildegard Von Bingen

A note about the lists - we will be using them in the future, so please keep them stored safely, they will be part of what we use when we come closer t the end of the journey and very helpful on review days.

Time to look at our successes and challenges:

Here are mine:


Three pounds lighter today - Yay!

Sticking to gluten and wheat free ( Look for the posting later with recipes and Gluten/wheat free menu ideas)
Writing on the blog everyday.


Spending more than I budgeted

Not going to curves three times this week and making the time/priority to exercise

Not being on top of all the tasks I had said I would complete by today

Quote for the Day:

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”  Brene Brown, author.