A midwinter check-in with yourself

It’s February 14th. Heart day, V-Day. Whatchamacallit day.

Yesterday, I stealthily baked heart-shaped cookies for my children and their friends right before my daughter came home from school. I aired out the kitchen so it wouldn’t smell so good, cleaned all the mixer bowls and hid the evidence. It was a fun and relaxing thing to do – something they did not expect at all, and seeing their happy and surprised faces this morning was well worth it. As I baked yesterday (and because I’m self-employed, I was able to do that at 2pm, not 10pm…) I reflected on the fact that some years, I would not have had time, the energy or the interest to bake for many different reasons: too busy at work, too tired from looking after little kids, interested in some other project…What was fun about making the cookies is that it wasn’t a should, it was a “Just because I feel like it” kind of thing. I may not do it again next year, it’s not a tradition or something I expect of myself (Martha Stewart – you do not have me!).

Is there room in your schedule for “Just because I feel like it” events once in a while, or is life so jammed-packed that there is no space left for spontaneity?

Now that we’re hitting the middle of February, it’s a good time to check-in with yourself and see how you are doing post-holiday. Whether we adopt formal New Year’s resolutions or not, most of us make or renew commitments with ourselves when we start back at work in January. Now that the holiday ornaments are back in the basement storage, and that our attention is turned towards Spring rather than Winter, where are you at with those New Year’s commitments to yourself?

The goal of taking stock is not to beat yourself up about what you haven’t done, but rather to take a compassionate and loving look at the past 6 weeks and see why/how things got off track, if they did. Maybe your goals were too lofty, and not realistically achievable? The gym is full of future marathon runners in January, but in March the gym returns to its usual suspects…

So, once you’ve eaten all the Valentine’s Day chocolate you can handle, I invite you to sit down for ten minutes, and start by taking a few deep calming breaths. Then,  jot down a few thoughts about your current goals: Where are you at with reaching them? 1% of the way? That’s worth celebrating too, not just the massive leaps. If things have been really hard for the past six weeks, why not write down a compassionate, loving statement about why you have not been able to stick to the plan. Finally, why not scale down the goal into much more manageable increments: a walk around the block, saving $5 a week by not buying a latte, having a kind thought about someone instead of gossiping, eating one more vegetable per day. Research shows that true lifestyle change (the ones that stick) is really about the little daily decisions, not the crazy cabbage soup cleanse you attempt and fail at, or the austerity budget you blow after a week because you feel so restricted.

I recently read the following statement on a healthy eating blog: “You are only one meal away from healthy eating.” The same can be true about any lifestyle change: you are only one walk away from being someone who exercises, one cup of tea away from being someone who doesn’t have a stiff drink after work as a matter of course. One meeting away from not being the office grouch.

Feel free to share your new commitments with us on the comments below!

Please be kind to yourself.

You are invited…Toronto Book Launch March 1st

Caversham invites you to join in celebrating the release of Françoise Mathieu’s newly published work THE COMPASSION FATIGUE WORKBOOK: Creative Tools for Transforming Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Traumatization. Routledge Psychosocial Stress Series. Click here to download invitation.


at Caversham Booksellers, 98 Harbord St

Reception 7:00 to 9:00 pm,

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

RSVP to Caversham Booksellers:

(416) 944-0962

1-800-361-6120 or


website: www.cavershambooksellers.com


“Françoise Mathieu’s writing is wonderful: she speaks from the heart, practitioner to practitioner, about the stressors and strains of human service work, particularly those that come from prolonged regular work with traumatized patients and clients. This is a book you help write by yourself and about yourself. That’s why it is the workbook for trauma work.”

Charles R. Figley, Tulane University, Louisiana, USA, and author of Treating Compassion Fatigue




Workshop with Dr Allan Wade April 24-25th, 2012

Public Service Announcement: 

National Victims of Crime Awareness Week 2012

“Moving Forward” Witnessing Victims’ Resistance to Violence with Dr Allan Wade, Ph.D.

April 24-25th, Roblin, On.

Cost: $55.00 per person (lunch included)


2 day workshop in Response Based Training: This workshop will present current research on violence, trauma, language and social responses in cases of violence. Participants will learn gentle, straightforward and effective interviewing skills for honouring victims’ responses and resistance to violence, identifying offenders’ pre-existing ability to act respectfully, and promoting positive social responses.

Included in the two days are 2 Keynote Speakers:

Tuesday April 24th: Donna French – Personal Story
Wednesday April 25th: Yvonne Harvey – “Stop Blaming the Victim” – The Impact of Murder on the Family Unit
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m
Location: Roblin Wesleyn Church
3100 County Rd 41
Roblin, Ontario
Sponsors: Lennox & Addington Domestic Violence Community Coordinating Committee & Policy Centre for Victim Issues- Department of Justice Canada
For more information contact: Trish Reid @ 613-354-8937 x 117

New Coaching Group in Kingston! Starts April 17th, 2012

Over ten years ago, Robin Cameron and I met over coffee and talked about the pressing need for more resources on compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. That conversation lasted for hours and at the end of that day, we had decided to do as much research as we could and design a compassion fatigue workshop that would speak to the needs of helpers around us. Walking the Walk, our one day compassion fatigue workshop, was the product of this meeting of the minds.

For the past decade, we have wanted to offer a coaching group for helpers but the time was never right (babies, a round the world trip, work, life got in the way). Well, now we are ready!

Robin and I are thrilled to be able to offer this unique experience: an eight week coaching group for 8 helping professionals in Kingston! This group starts on April 17th and will offer 5 in person sessions as well as email support and tons of additional resources for eight weeks.

Click here to read more