Tag Archives: wellness

Horizon interval (haibun)


© clr 2014
© clr 2014


what beauty above

artist paints the horizon


Working in the helping profession can be challenging but it is an extremely validating career.  To listen to someone who has no where else to turn, no one else to trust and bravely dials an anonymous help line is liberating and at times, life saving.  I am fortunate to work for such a great organization that offers so much hope to youths and young adults.

A counsellor has to practice self-care to avoid compassionate fatigue.  That entails taking time off work periodically, spending time with family, friends and mostly finding activities to unwind and experience joy. Life is not all about pain and sadness but when you work in a field where you are facing darkness in the eye too often, it is easy to distort life’s reality.

But what must one do in between those “times off”?  Some watch comedy clips on-line, read a good suspense thriller allows the mind to tune out real quick, go for a walk on the streets of Montreal, talk to a colleague, sit in a park for half an hour, journal, write and some take the elevator in our building to go  up to the roof and just breath in the crescendo of colours created by the Great Spirit.

I often hurry up there when I take a sneak peek while on a phone call and see through the window the sun starting its performance and I rush upstairs to witness the concert playing out along the horizon.


© CLR 2014
© CLR 2014


quelle vision là-haut

l’artiste peint l’horizon

gouache coloré

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/06/13

 Submission for: Carpe Diem #491 Horizon

Ms Calm and Ms Anxiety


Penny Calm came in the diner
one cold snowy Friday
ordered a cuppa camomile
and the soup of the day;
sipping her herbal tea
lost in thought totally
she waited patiently
for Ms. Sue Anxiety.

Sue arrived in such a state
trembling and rambling
about why she was so late
“A loser on the interstate
slowed me up a long time
twenty cars were tailing in line!”
she ranted and she raved,
an order of soup she then gave
with a double Cappuccino.

“No wonder she’s so nervous”
thought her friend, Penny Calm,
“drinking cappuccino all day long.
If only she changed her diet,
her nerves might soon be quiet
and not be so distressed.”

“Now, now, Sue, calm down a bit,
let’s just enjoy our visit.
We have so much to share
Now tell me, how you are?”
Sue Anxiety , no time to spare
she complained all afternoon
’bout this and that and not aware
the impact of  her attitude
had managed to stir Penny
no longer was she calm, rather
started to panic, hyperventilate.
she had to use her inhaler
to calm her breathing rate.

By the end of the day, Sue Anxiety seemed much calmer
“This was such a great idea, to meet and spend the day
Talking and getting things off my chest I feel so much better.”
Penny Calm just stared at Sue, not sure what she should say
and left the diner, saying, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

And so the story goes that Penny Calm never
did call Sue Anxiety, and calmly lived forever.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/06

Am I just tired or what?

B questioning me nov 13Okay, so recently I have noticed that I may have hit the low mark…my battery runneth over the limit.

I woke up late yesterday for work (noon is pretty darn late when I have to leave at 1p.m. to get there) and I got that dizzy, crummy, dazed and confused feeling I had not felt in a long time. Darn! Then that reminded me of the weeks and weeks where I would stay in a reclining position for days and read and sleep and read and sleep.

At that time I thought it was simply to escape reality…hiding from problems… personal, familial…and other times I reasoned with myself that it was just recharging my batteries. Well, it was a bit of both, I suppose…escaping and recharging. That is actually not too uncommon for anyone working in the helping profession. It is a way to prevent Vicarious Trauma that if not taken seriously, can develop into Compassionate Fatigue…

I kid you not!! I gave a workshop on this for my peers last year…so through my research and past personal learnings on the subject, I know what to do and most times I do what I gotta do.

So add on family and personal problems and illness both physical and emotional and there you have it…a person that needs to STOP, listen to what your body is telling you!! and if you really have to…consult with a professional. That is NOT being weak, it is just being smart! So I was thinking this morning as I was in operating in sloowwwwww motion, that I just need to be more intuitive to what is going on inside my body and my head {my heart and soul too I suppose but then there are too many things to check into and I get a bit flabbergasted}. My body says, relax, smell the frigging amazing aroma of that java and just BE. Wow! That sure sounds Zen, doesn’t it?

I showered and massaged my scalp and soaked up those hot water pellets…Man that feels good! Then I got a teeny guilty feeling of all the water I was wasting… {Uh, but I shut that part of my brain off real fast!}. This was part of my therapy…relaxing …shedding all the toxins and dead skin too (yuck) in the shower and feeling those hot water pellets zap the tension out of my shoulder blades…felt real fine, thank you very much! :D

Even my feline friend, Bette, is moving on a low key mode…she is not even talking to me…which is just fine with me as I do NOT feel like opening my mouth and hearing my voice myself. Nope, communicating via this keyboard is just about all I can handle thus far.

No music is playing …the only sounds I hear is the electric energy of my refrigerator, forced warm air blowing from the vents and the tap tap tap of this keyboard. Just about all I can handle …for now.

“I have to get out of my head sooner or later now shouldn’t I?” I asked myself. “I mean, the purpose of recharging is to shut off that overcrowded talking machine of a brain I have!” When I go through times like that where I am talking to myself in my mind ONLY, I often think how close I am to being labelled a mentally unstable person. Why is that? And how does one define a mental disorder anyways? I, personally, think there are a lot more folks like me…vulnerable and fragile at times than the world {medical, mental health, helping professions) are willing to admit.

What IS normal anyways? Maybe withdrawing into myself at times is nature’s way of protecting that mind of mine. Sometimes I talk to myself…that’s one major reason I had dogs for a while especially when I was younger, married with 2 children. Sheesh, these loveable creatures were the only ones who did NOT think I blabbed too much, accepted anything and everything I said and comforted me when I was real sad too…no judging there. Yes, I do believe that animals are probably the best models to follow in this anti-stigma in mental health…if only they could speak human language to teach us humble critters a thing or two!!

I work in the helping profession and unfortunately I feel that many of the colleagues I worked with are quick to judge and label…yup, that dirty “S” word…Stigmatize. No wonder so many people rarely get help or when they do it can be fairly late and treatment and recovery can be longer.

I used to often say “Women, we are our worst enemy. How we women judge other women on how they look, dress, act…too sexy, too feminine…too masculine…too bossy…correction…a guy can be bossy but a woman is judged as being a bitch. And when it comes to working as nurses, doctors, mental health professionals…they…we, often get caught up in that same trap.”

Thank the Lord I have good friends and am picky on whom to share with as colleagues…only a select few who are my friends.

A clinical supervisor gave me advice 12 years ago before resigning. It was sort of like her going away gift…to me. She said, “Be careful who you confide in at work. Be wary of what you share when you debrief and if you really need support in supervision…feeling some client’s situations are triggering personal stuff…DO NOT share with your supervisor. I do not judge you and appreciate your candor but your transparency can be a bit naïve…and expose you to problems…especially of being misunderstood and judged.” I will never forget that bit of advice. I shared with one more seasoned and brilliant colleague/therapist and I continued to grow and become pretty darn good at what I do. I also chose to seek counselling and debrief with my doctor who was also happened to have an MSW…bonus for me!

I am not a supervisor…and not really interested in getting into that politically influenced managerial position. But I am a seasoned counsellor now and I take pride in mentoring younger counsellors if and when they come to me. I think that mentoring should always be available. And that the less experienced worker gets support and good modelling BUT as a supervisory component, that the mentor report to her/his supervisor on they have learned in mentoring…what they have learned about themselves…what needs to be improved and what have they regained being with this fresh new inquisitive colleague. Teaching helps you to learn…to regurgitate what you think you know. We always need to refresh our knowledge and re-humble ourselves…not sure if that’s a word but it is the only one that fits…this morning.

I like to think that I am not a judging, labeling, finger pointing person…but I sure am not perfect either…perfection is on my “list to do” when I come back as a fly or a guy…{quirky smile}

So back to me…moi…LA personne en perspective in this narrative. I am going to NOT plan anything except what pleases me and a few necessities (like getting some errands done…food is at the top of my list…) and drying my hair. Oh, did I tell you that fixing my hair and having a “good hair day” actually does contribute to my wellbeing? Well, it does…being the daughter of a hairdresser, hair is pretty darn close to an obsession…let’s call it a preoccupation for now…that sounds healthier…more stable, does it not? Frankly I think it may be an overt manifestation on my part but I kid myself and think it is more covert…undercover. Who cares anyways?

I have worked with professionals who are obsessed with germs, dirt and a few who would back away from me if I came “at them” to give them a birthday hug. I kid you not! In Quebec I had some friends who were uncomfortable with touch and space they required. But they would not rudely push me away…just that their body went limp and I quickly pulled away and got the message.

{Actually after living in Toronto for 10+ years, I have learned to read the body language a bit better BEFORE attacking someone with my bear hugs.}

It is not always easy finding a great hugger…someone who is comfortable holding you real tight and just enjoying the human energy. I have many female friends and colleagues who are pretty good huggers but I can count less than 5 men who I have had the pleasure to experience that “bear hug”.

Virginia Satir (My hero and guru along with Margaret Meade, Jane Nelsen and Heather Stuart) said that the human being needs many hugs in one day to actually “survive” as a species.  I totally agree with her. So for those who are too shy or afraid to get those hugs…go to the next best thing…a massage.  {Or you could always volunteer at a daycare and get oodles of slurpy kisses and amazing hugs}

If you are not used to hugs that massage may even make you cry from sheer pleasure and emotional release…you may never have realized how much that body needed  to be touched and squeezed real tight.

Hmm, come to think of it, that is another task to put on “things to do”…make an appointment for a massage…that is all part of taking care of the “whole” me…holistic approach.   By the way, I do realize that I am tired mostly because I am always burning the candle at both ends…resisting sleep to  think, to write and to read.  But I sure want to live a long healthy life, and so I will stop behaving like a rebellious teenager .  I want to live a long time still because I sure have a lot to say, to do and to write!!

In closing, I just want to say that sharing my thoughts actually has re-energized my spirit and my body is slowly following suit…Namaste namaste model

and hugs…

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, originally written Jan. 13, 2013