I am so blessed! I had a phenomenal summer which included the addition of a great nephew to our family – always a miracle in my eyes!- and the opportunity to spend time with my family in a cottage on the water. I love being on the water (maybe my Piscean DNA) or sitting in my backyard being in nature, relaxing, reading and being quiet. It is so healing for me and I think for most of us actually. If you need some nourishment – step outside! I enjoyed the warmth of the summer sun on my body feeding me my vitamin D and warming me deep into my bones. My schedule slowed down a bit, so I was blessed with many opportunities to spend time outside. I especially appreciated the time I had to go for walks with my dog.

And now we move into the cooler, darker days and I can already feel the change in my body and spirit. I know many who are affected by the seasonal change and have many clients talk to me about moving into these next seasons and recognizing the impact on their mood and well-being. So I always try to look at the blessings of the seasons and cycles we experience. I recognize that we need this seasonal winding down so we can welcome new growth and new beginnings next spring. I also remind myself that we are entering a time of resting and going inward that is necessary for our personal health and well-being.

But for me, and for many people, this is also a busy time of year. I recently had the opportunity to co-lead a silent retreat for health-care providers with Anna Taneburgo of Whole Healing. I’m teaching medical students, running a mindfulness meditation course for health care providers, continuing to provide counselling and doing a ton of talks on compassion fatigue and wellness. In the new year I am going to teach with my mentor Dekyi Lee Oldershaw in the Applied Mindfulness Meditation certificate program offered through the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Its a leadership course based on Dekyi Lee’s book The 16 Guidelines for Life. It is a phenomenal book and set of tools that I use both professionally and personally. If you want to live a more mindful and compassionate life, I encourage you to check out the website.

Most importantly, I wanted to share that I recently had the privilege of debriefing and offering support to a group of child welfare workers exposed to violence in the course of their work. I cannot say enough about the courage and compassion that I witnessed in these workers. They do one of the most difficult and thankless jobs that I can think of, looking out for the welfare of our children which often means having to go into some very challenging situations. I know this first hand from when I worked in the field many years ago. When a child is hurt, society is quick to blame the failure of this system but we never stop to thank the workers for doing their jobs and often placing themselves at risk to help children. During the debriefing with one of the workers about the dangerous situation they were faced with, the worker commented, “I would not hesitate to do it again to protect that child”

So when I do my meditation tonight I am going to remember and offer loving kindness to all the child welfare workers who work to protect our children. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.