Five Steps for Letting Go of Emotional Baggage… for Good!

Growing up, and well into my adult years, I was the definition of a “daddy’s girl;” a title I shared with my sister. Even with two daughters, my dad had the distinct ability to make us each feel like his number one Princess. My dad was charming, loving, supportive and caring and he always put his family first. He loved his kids unconditionally and would seize every opportunity to let everyone know how proud he was of us.

One, Two Step

My dad loved to dance and made sure I learned all the oldies. He would take me in his arms while counting all the steps making sure I kept up with the classical “two step.” It was magical and always so special. When Dad suddenly passed away I was in shock and devastated. I had no idea how I was going to move on, let alone let go!

Letting Go

Letting go of the past is difficult for many and not knowing where to start is the hardest part. I only say this because I was in the same position. When I lost my father, my best friend, I didn’t know where to start with the healing process.

The loss was overwhelming and it quickly turned into emotional baggage that I couldn’t shake. While holding on to hurt feelings of his passing, I refused to focus on anything good. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew I had to move on and stop locking myself in the bathroom thinking that it would just go away. I had to do the work.

Aha Moment

Right then I made a choice to honour my father’s great memory and let go of the emotional baggage.

These are the steps I took…

  1. Connect: The first step is to identify what you are feeling and acknowledge it. Once you know what the emotional baggage is, you are ready for the next step (I had to stop hiding in the bathroom pretending that I was strong and then identify my pain.)
  2. Be honest: Tell yourself the truth; why you are hurting and what is affecting you. Then get ready to let it go! (Once I was honest with myself about my dad dying and that it really hurt me, instantly the weight began to lift off my shoulders.)
  3. Dig deep: Explore your feelings to figure out how this baggage got there. This part can be painful but it is a step in letting go! (This part was difficult because I had to go backwards to the pain, but it helped because I knew my way back out.)
  4. Positive Feelings: Instead of focusing on the negativity and the pain, focus on the feelings that make you feel good. This will take time and practice but once you get the hang of it you won’t want to stop. (I began talking about great memories instead of the emotional baggage of the last day of his life.)
  5. Just Say It: Make the decision to let go. This starts by using your words. Yes it’s that easy! You can start every morning by looking in the mirror and telling yourself “today I am okay.” (And that is what I did!)

With these tools I was able to take the necessary steps to move away from the past, live in the present and plan for my future. With the proper support in place such as family, close friends and/or counselling, these steps will make a big difference.

Dancing with Daddy Again

I still dream about dancing with my father and I believe that one day it will happen; but for now I live in the present filled with great memories to share with my children.

What baggage are you holding on to? Maybe I can help! Leave your comment below.

Submitted by AskDonnaMarie

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Butter – Why is it Better?

Butter PicFor many years this has been a big discussion among health practitioners.

Butter and other high saturated fat were believed to be the culprits that caused heart disease.  We have been eating butter for thousands of years and blaming new health problems on old foods does not make sense.  As consumption of fatty foods like butter went down, diseases like heart disease, obesity and type II diabetes went up.  The truth is, natural foods like butter have nothing to do with heart disease.

The reason butter was demonized is because it is loaded with saturated fat.  It is a very high saturated fat, with the fatty acids in it being about 63%.

Butter is also loaded with Vitamin K.  This comes in several forms, Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) which is found in plant foods such as leafy greens and Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) which is found in animal foods.  Even though these two forms are similar, they appear to have different effects on the body.  Vitamin K1 is important for blood clotting and Vitamin K2 helps to keep calcium out of your arteries.  High fat dairy products from grass-fed cows are among the best sources of Vitamin K2 in the diet; other sources include egg yolks.  Vitamin K works by modifying proteins, giving them the ability to bind calcium ions.  One problem with calcium is that it tends to leach out of the bones and into the arteries, causing heart disease.  Therefore optimizing your intake of Vitamin K2 can reduce the risk of both osteoporosis and heart disease.

Butter is loaded with an anti-inflammatory fatty acid called butyrate.  It is now believed that inflammation is the leading driver of heart disease.  We need some inflammation in the body to help protect our bodies from injury and infections.  But when it is excessive it can cause severe harm.  It is known that inflammation in the endothelium is a crucial part of the pathway that ultimately leads to plaque formation and heart attacks.  The butyrate found in butter is also known to help with digestive health and may help prevent weight gain.

Butter is also a food that contains Omega 3.  This is important because most people are already eating way too much Omega 6 fatty acids and not enough Omega 3’s.

You can also find CLA in butter.  Studies show that this fatty acid can have anti-cancer properties and help lower body fat percentage in humans.

The bottom line is, studies show that highly processed fats such as margarine increase heart disease risk, so it only makes sense that we should avoid them.  Real food is the key to good health; processed junk food is not.  Despite margarines being able to lower total and LDL cholesterol in short term, they actually lead to the opposite effect and can lead to increases in heart disease.  Butter is the better choice for the benefits it gives to the body.

Submitted by Gwen Cottingham, Simply for Life, Bradford

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Gwen’s Clinic is located at 157 Holland Street, EAST – Unit 4, Bradford., ON


10 Myths About Counselling You Might Believe

10 Myths About Counselling You Might Believe

by Jon S. White, Executive Director, Partners Counselling & Education Services

1. Going to Counselling means I’m “messed up” or “mental.”

Well, I won’t lie. Something is messed up, but it isn’t you. We all have had experiences, especially in our younger years, that left us believing certain things about ourselves, other people and the world in general. Some of these beliefs come from childhood, our culture, various media etc. Many of them are gender-based and are the consequence of how both genders are scripted to experience their male- or femaleness. When these beliefs – many of which are completely unconscious – show up in our lives as struggling relationships and damaged self-esteems, we need help to straighten them out. Many of the beliefs that burden us were learned. The good news is that they can be unlearned and relearned. At Partners it is our job to help you get all the knots out of your rope.

 2. My friends are there, if I need help.

While friends can be a powerful source of comfort and support, they are not trained professionals. Even if they are, they may be too close to you and your emotion to be properly objective. There is a certain energy to attending a session with a trained Professional that is more conducive to good Counselling outcomes. Change is always a challenge for most of us because it means adapting to a different reality. Those adaptations cause stress. At Partners we are trained to help you move through those changes with more ease and grace.

3. I don’t know what I would talk about.

The first job of your Counsellor is to put you at ease and to help you feel comfortable and safe enough to relax and “open up.” We at Partners are very good at this. We’re real people who appreciate how challenging this process is and have all taken our turn with our own therapy or clinical supervision. All of us understand the need to continue our own inner work and, as the Executive Director, it is my job to continually challenge my Associates to stay conscious of their own lives and careers and to stay on top of their own game. This is called Clinical Supervision and it is intended to ensure they we are not trying to take you places we haven’t already gone ourselves.

4. I will be forced to relive unpleasant emotions.

In truth, there is little therapeutic value in spending a lot of time wading in the muck of our own pasts. The past may inform some of the present, but it need not define you. While the past does not excuse us, it can help to explain us. But be clear: all of the events and people in our lives – now and in the past – contributed to who we have become. When crap shows up in our lives, spending a bit of time figuring out where it came from and, more importantly, critically looking at whether or not it is even true, is valuable. For instance, repeatedly being treated like or called a bad person, does not make it true – not unless you have believed it and are now acting “badly” as a result. Partners will help you rediscover the Real You: that perfect child you were when you came to this planet.

5. My Counsellor will judge me.

Not going to happen. It is unethical and unprofessional. More importantly, all of us at Partners have walked our own difficult paths. Some of us were lost once too. All of the Associates at Partners, especially me, have overcome significant obstacles and challenges in the past. That’s why we are so good at what we do. We all have been trained, but we didn’t just read this stuff in a book. We’ve been there, done that. Judgement of any kind has no place in the Partners Counselling equation!

6. Counselling is expensive.

We have a fee. It is not covered by OHIP or Insurance. That is not an accident and, in fact, I would turn down public funding. Why? Because we heal best and fastest when we are fully invested in our own good health. I’ll tell you what is expensive: an unhappy life, lost potential, divorce, suicide, drug use and overdose. All these things are happening daily all around us. Two medium coffee a day will cost at least $1300.00 a year; a pack of cigarettes a day almost $4000.00 a year. Partners offers a reasonable fee. It is the best and healthiest gift you will ever give yourself. At Partners we are not responsible to funders or the government or insurance companies that care little for you as an individual. We are only responsible to you, our client. We account to no one but you and to each other and our professional standards and ethics. We are proud of this. Don’t let money be the reason you continue to struggle. It is never worth it.

7. A Couples Counsellor will choose a side – likely the one of the same gender.

I have news for you: it is not my job to decide which of you is right and which is wrong. You’re both right. And you’re both wrong. Seeking who to blame is a worthless experience. You came together for a reason and, at the time, it served you both. We are all personally responsible for our choices. Rather, it is my job to help you determine if your relationship serves you still and, if so, I have some remarkable tools to share and to teach you. Remember, each couple relationship contains three separate entities: you, him/her and us. You and he/she bring separate backgrounds, hurts and experiences into the relationship. Together you form a third thing – a couple – who must blend these two pasts together, create a family and perhaps parent children. I can teach you a whole new set of skills and communication to help make all three of these entities flourish. Remember: separation is unpleasant, messy and very expensive. Why go there if Partners can demonstrate that there is a chance of repair and happiness?

8. Once an alcoholic/addict always an alcoholic/addict….

While it is true that addiction is considered a chronic condition, people get sober and stay that way. I have. While it is also true that I will never be “cured” of alcoholism, my job was to learn the art of Sober Living and now to teach it to others. My personal experience and training, along with a variety of intervention, Addiction Counselling and therapeutic tools and resources all maximize the chance of recovery and a healthy drug and alcohol-free life. If we continue to hold people in the trap of their addiction, with our judgement and blame, we lessen their chances for recovery. You are not what you do. Partners has been very successful in helping men, women and teens get clean and sober and stay that way.

9. I can find the answers myself.

Let’s be honest. If you knew the answers, you would probably be already using them and your life would be the way you want it. Sometimes we have to acknowledge that we don’t know the answers because we aren’t even sure of the questions. You can’t ask for a tool you don’t even know exists. Our job at Partners is to help you find the right questions and to support you in finding your own answers. We do Counselling with you, not on you. We believe that all people want to be well and happy and that the seeds of all that are within you. We’ll help you discover where to look, then “hold your coat” as you make the changes.

10. Counselling takes forever.

No, it doesn’t. And it shouldn’t. My job is to help you resolve your “stuff” and get on with a glorious life just as quickly as you’re willing to move. The changes you make, the new tools you learn, the healthier perspective you adopt – those are the things that last forever.

What We Can Do

This speech was deliver by Executive Director Jon White on the occasion of the event “Take Back the Night”, September 26, 2013:

Good evening:

I have had the great honour in my lifetime of being in relationship with some very powerful women: my wife Marian, my daughter, my elder sisters, colleagues and friends. I have watched them grow as individuals and as women and recently was in New Brunswick when my daughter Lindsay delivered twin girls, sunny-side up, naturally and with no drugs of any kind.

To do so, she had to be courageous and persistent. The pressure to do it in a way that was convenient for others, was strong and pervasive. Yet, she stood in her power and demanded an outcome based on solid research and knowing her own body. I am clear, in retrospect, that she pulled off something I know I wouldn’t have the strength to even attempt. In the end, every one from the Obstetrician to the nursing staff were in awe of her accomplishment.

I share this story as an example of a powerful young woman. I am dismayed when I hear too many other young women talking to each other and treating each other in a way that belies the struggle of so many women of my generation, who risked everything to be treated with greater respect. I am dismayed when I stand at the check-out counter at the grocery store, scanning the cover stories and the cheesy magazines and wondering if we’ve made any headway at all in 40 years. I am dismayed by much of what I see on Facebook.

When I’ve worked in schools, I quickly observed that boys, by the time they reach Grade 3, have learned there will be an unpleasant price for being naturally emotional. By the time they reach Grade 8, they have actually forgotten how to be fully emotional. What is this world that continues to teach boys the terrible price of being real? I cannot even figure out when or why that began! In the caveman days, when emotions got in the way of fighting or fleeing for survival? Those days are long gone. Frankly, I can’t remember the last time I had to slay lunch!

My Father, through his words and actions – and perhaps because of the two wars in which he fought – taught me the fatal man-choice: you must be soft like a woman, or as hard as nails. I tried being tough and all I got for it was loneliness, bitterness and anger. Later, it led me into an addiction to alcohol and the terrible toll it took on me and those I loved and who loved me. I sobered up many years ago and I decided that I could be both those things: loving, nurturing and emotionally expressive when appropriate and tough as leather as the situation warranted. I taught my daughter and my son the same thing.

After years of working with men who abuse women, my conclusion is clear: abusive men are emotionally dependent on the women they abuse. They honestly believe that the woman has all the power in the relationship and emotionally, she does. So men have used the thick stick of authority and strength to get their way and to protect the object of their abuse from slipping away.

I have always considered it my sacred duty to model for men my soft side, as well as my tough, so-called manly side. I do this while I re-teach them emotional expression and management. As men change, the world of women will inevitably change. The concept that men must be hard and unfeeling contributes to the travesties that have been visited upon women. This myth has left men around the world betrayed and we have all paid a horrible price for it. Men also need to learn to stand in their power – not the authority that tradition and culture has given them. Powerful men abuse no one; it is unnecessary and destructive and they understand that. When more men learn this, the world will change.

I will continue to call to my brothers around the world, to work with our sisters to create a safer, gentler, more hospitable life for all. I suspect that wherever the human race is headed, we must go there together, hand in hand with Spirits joined, walking side by side.

I want young women and men to understand the risks that were taken on their behalf. I want young people to appreciate the many things they take for granted, that so many others fought so hard to obtain. I accept that those in front, leading the charge, also make the most convenient targets. I, too, have taken my share of hits. But, I also know that this world cannot permit the useless damage, the abuse or the death of another single soul, who’s lost potential continues to deprive us of brilliant minds and perspective. I believe that drugs, alcohol, bullying and other forms of abuse are ravaging our young people – our most precious resource. Where and when will it stop?

It will stop when we, as adults, learn to stand in our power. Not in authority, which is a device of humanity, but in our personal power, which is Creator-driven. It will stop when we embrace the knowledge that because of the events in our lives, we often don’t know the answers because we often don’t even know the questions. We will require the right help, support and encouragement to take back the night, to heal from the darkness and to return to the state of powerful grace in which we were born.

I have five grandchildren, four of them girls. I watch and I learn from them all. I am immensely proud that they will never experience the childhood I had and that the changes I made in my own life are a large factor in that. I took responsibility finally for all that I was and for all that I was not and fought for the resources and help to change and grow and then reached out to help heal others so I might be likewise healed.

I also want them to know what Germaine Greer taught me in her books so long ago and that I, in turn, taught my daughter: “that women’s liberation means embracing gender differences in a positive fashion – a struggle for the freedom of women to define their own values, order their own priorities and determine their own fates.”

In my marriage to Marian, I have experienced the enduring power of unconditional love. She has taught me that we are not called to be perfect. We are called to be conscious; that is, to accept personal responsibility for every thought, word and action and their impact on our own well-being and the well-being of others. This love has transformative power and calls us to strive to be our best and to forgive ourselves when we cannot.

My clients and students have taught me that to heal from abuse and pain we need someone to believe in us, most especially on the days in which we cannot believe in ourselves. This kind of unconditional positive regard is also transformative.

Life has taught me that I do not know the truth, just my truth and that my truth is comprised of my upbringing, my culture, my education and mostly my experiences. I have learned that I am entitled to my truth and that you are equally entitled to yours.

And finally, tonight has reminded me that the desire to be free, to chart one’s own course, to express one’s Spirit in whatever way one sees fit, is alive and well in the world. Tonight, we gather to take back the night. Tonight we gather in solidarity to “Shatter the Silence” and “Stop the Violence.” As the child of a violent home, I stand shoulder to shoulder with you in achieving that goal.

I believe that personal safety, meaningful opportunity and supportive love are our birthright. Yet, I have witnessed that right here in Canada – surely the most privileged place on the planet – and in too many other countries around the world, that much more work must be done to ensure that all of us are accorded these simple things, from the moment of our creation.

It has been said that: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.” Thank you for being here tonight – doing something.

The Barriers to Getting Help

What do many people think of when they hear the word counselling?

Do they resort back to an older way of thinking and assume this must mean tests, medications and visits to people with white coats? Do they assume that something must be wrong with them, or that they are insane?  Or have we evolved at all.

Counselling sure has.

We live daily in a society in which broken limbs are mended and rehabilitated, sore backs are soothed by massage and exercise and unhappy people can transform their appearances with surgery. We accept it. It’s part of our modern world. If someone were to inform their friends or family that they had fractured their arm and were going to proceed with the medical care suggested by their doctor – cast and physiotherapy – I doubt much opposition would be presented. They would be encouraged to do so.


However, let’s entertain the idea of someone telling their friends or family that they are going to Counselling. Or someone is told by a Doctor or other medical professional, that they recommend therapy for them. I can tell you that I have witnessed the many times. People often get offended and defensive. It is a taboo territory for them. Friends and families are often unsupportive and critical, offering advice and opinions that belittle and judge.

This is no fault of our own. We have created stigmas and taboos in our society about our mental and emotional well-being out of fear and ignorance. We have created ways of thinking that bluntly state that it’s OK for humankind to be vulnerable and to break physically, but mentally and emotionally, we are supposed to be indestructible, infallible and perfectly sound. We are not allowed to be depressed, anxious, or traumatized and those who are, well, it’s their own fault Sometimes we cast them out of our social circles and leave them abandoned and alone.

Too many people are unaccepting of the ‘broken bones’ of our mental health. Unfortunately, our youth are the ones who are suffering the most. Growing up in a world where they are stigmatized and discriminated against for seeking the help they need, is taking a costly toll on their lives. Almost one half (49%) of our youth who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem. That means that half of those suffering youth are not even considering counselling. They are waking up every day living with a huge painful, debilitating, limiting ‘broken arm’ in their heads.

This can change. It must. There is real help and it is available right now.

If you are, or know, a young person struggling with any of a hundred serious issues that affect young people today, call. We’re here to help.

 – Posted by Anneille Ward, A.C.S.W., Youth Services Director

289-231-9554 –

The Nature of Grief

Grief as a Process of Healing

When a person first experiences grief it can feel disheartening and painful. Grief however is our natural process towards healing.  Our minds intuitively begin to process what is unfolding. Despite the pain and hardships that grief presents, it is our unique way of journeying through that allows us to live fully. It is important to note that we all grieve differently. There are no two people that experience grief in the same way. The relationships we have are unique, so when we are deprived of them our grief will be unique as well. Grief is our natural way that encourages us toward autonomy and choices.We are the ones who make the choices that will shape our journey.

Are There Stages of Grief?

Perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions is if there are stages to grief; although many theories have been presented none have been fully proven. Often people search for stages to act as a map through uncertain times.  If you can in vision an ocean with a map charting the waters, it can assist to some degree. However, maps cannot tell you what the weather will be, the wind direction or the size of the swells. The uniqueness of each individual is what is key.  Exploring the stages can assist some people and can provide some guidance. What is important is looking at how the stages fit you, not how you fit into the stages.

The Labyrinth

The labyrinth is an ancient symbol depicted in various cultures throughout the world. It consists of a single path that forms at the entrance and twists its way into the heart. Unlike a maze it does not have wrong turns and possible dead ends. Over time the labyrinth has become a recognized symbol of the grieving process.  When one first experiences grief they begin to enter the long corridors of their own personal labyrinth. The foreign path begins to reveal itself as the person ventures deeper and deeper to the core. The journey can take several months or possibly a lifetime.

When Should You Seek Grief Counselling?

  • If you do not have or utilize a support network
  • Maintain denial or disbelief long after the death
  • Constantly avoid things that remind you of your loved one
  • Have strong feelings of depression
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Intense feelings of hopelessness
  • If you are unable to perform daily tasks
  • You feel numb or disconnected from the world
  • Your life has lost meaning
  • If you are experiencing severe physical ailments

If you have found yourself stuck, lost or confused within your labyrinth of grief please call.  Support is one of the main predictors of bereavement outcomes and it is readily available at Partners Counselling and Education Services.

The Ten Truths of Addictions

▸    You are not what you do.

▸    Intention can change everything.

▸     You are a unique and valuable human being whose contributions
and potential must not be lost.

▸    Everything you do, and all that you’ve done, has served you. It has also served those around you. Your recovery first challenges – and then offers a gift – to everyone in your life.

▸    Your brain can be trained to betray you, or to support you.

▸    You can’t heal an addiction with the same heart and mind that created it.

▸    Your addiction began as a positive response to a stressful experience, but the reasons why you started and the reasons why you continue are different.

▸    The narrative of your early life was not written by “you”
and may be a much better description of “them.”

▸    You continue to create an environment that “returns you to the scene of the crime” and keeps you in a situation similar to the one in which your addiction began.

▸    If nothing changes, nothing changes.

© Partners Counselling & Education Services, 2003