Thursday, November 26, 2009

This One is for YOU

You know who you are. You're the one discouraged with the lack of blogging. I know I am probably not the one you most want to hear from but hey, here it is none the less. I don't know why I haven't felt much like blogging. There has been so much going on that should be inspiring me to write. Like my boy turning 16. What would have been Grandpa's 91st birthday. Growing rabbits, entertaining sheep, the changing seasons and the last of my tomatoes and canning with my daughters.

But there has been a blog post in the back of my mind that I think is jamming up the flow. Every now and then I pull it out and think, "I really need to write that". And then I think, "Naw...." I suppose I really do need to write it.

You know, since I graduated from UVic in the summer of 1991, moved to Winnipeg and started facilitating a women's group for survivors of sexual abuse, I have worked as a counsellor. That's what I call myself. I have worked pretty steady at it, although very part time since then. When I first moved to Vernon, I had an ad in the yellow pages and I saw quite a few people through that. When I went to work at NOEES as an employment facilitator, I took the ad out. I continued to see people - clients who had already been seeing me and those who heard about me through word-of-mouth. And that has been perfect with all that has been going on in my life and our family. I really didn't want to work in that way much more than that.

Just lately, I have really been feeling the urge to expand again. I think Rhiannon is at a stage now where she needs less of my time. I have only 2 kids at home and one of them is not home very much. Our window washing business now exceeds 500 customers and is running pretty smoothly with minimal input from me. I don't know, I have just been feeling ready. More grounded and secure in myself, perhaps, too.

So I set to work on a brochure. It is so 'unCanadian' to sell yourself and it was really hard to do. I ended up writing longhand in my journal and setting a timer for 15 minutes and forcing myself to write in 15 minute blocks. That actually worked really well. I think I have made an awesome brochure. Getting some testimonials from clients really helped me, too. So I have this brochure now. Printed even. On nice (partly recycled) paper.

And I have started to distribute them at the library and coffee shops and the People Place and any other place I can think of. But the thing is, I have come to realize that simply putting out brochures around town is probably not enough to actually bring in clients. I need to say what I do. I need to talk to people. I have such a hard time promoting myself in this way. Part of it is that people often seem to feel self-conscious when you tell them you are a counsellor like you are analyzing them. I don't. I don't think most counsellors do. It is a special thing when someone sits down in my office and begins to tell me their story. It takes a lot of focus and attention to be there for them in that moment. I don't go around doing that to random people. Really. The other part, I think is that somehow we think that people who are therapists or counsellors should have everything together. And generally we are just people. Having insight into someone else's problems or being a good listener is not the same has being perfect. And the other part is that it is just hard to say, yes, this is what I do and I'm actually pretty good at it.

It is a lot easier to say we wash windows and we do a very good job - in fact, we guarantee our work. Why is that? I suppose windows are a lot less personal. So that is my challenge right now. This is who I am. I am a counsellor and I am pretty good at it.

Here is an excerpt from my brochure:

About andrea

I have lived and raised my four children in the Vernon area for the last 15 years. Currently, I live in Coldstream on a small acreage with my husband and my two youngest children, as well as sheep, rabbits, chickens, dogs and cats (the animals by far outnumber the people around here!). I homeschool my children and I am interested in living sustainably in self-sufficient community.

I find it a great honour and privilege to walk with people along their journey. It is a joy to work with people at pivotal points in their lives. I am always in awe of the quiet courage so many people demonstrate in facing themselves and taking charge of their lives and growing.

It always fills me with wonder to be a witness to what can be achieved in an environment of acceptance.

Andrea’s Counselling Philosophy

I have an eclectic approach including training and experience in many therapeutic modalities and a degree in psychology. I have 18 years experience working as a counsellor.

I believe our purpose in life is to grow and find the best in ourselves and be happy. I believe it is love that matters, technique is secondary. The love we have for ourselves matters most of all and is the foundation and ultimate reason for any work we do on ourselves.

I believe the healing journey is an exciting journey and one I, myself have traveled. Offering my heart to others on their own journey is part of my path. I have learned that it is not my wisdom my clients are after but help recognizing their own. Our own inherent wisdom is the only one worth seeking.

Real change happens when we feel safe and loved for who we are. We can make change when we find our way back to the wonder of who we are. Sometimes we discover we don’t need to change the things we thought we did, and other times, changes we were afraid of making happen with ease.

Real growth happens when we make our dreams come true. And to our hearts, nothing is impossible. We can accomplish great goals one step at a time – “how does a plant grow? How does the tide rise? Gradually, gradually.”

To examine these beliefs and grow through them is the deepest form of self-analysis – to see how they have fashioned our feelings, our experiences – our very lives. Usually we absorbed these beliefs without thinking – without deciding. Finding and changing beliefs that no longer suit us can be difficult but very rewarding work. Usually the greatest obstacle is our own inertia. It can be tremendously liberating to unearth our beliefs and replace them with more affirming ones.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Do not despair, dear sisters, the tide will turn and we will all get what we deserve."

That was my first line in my first high school play. I was Flora in a melodrama called "Flora's Flower Shop". It had a hero named Dudley Van Doright and a villain whose name escapes me who was foreclosing on our mortgage. I had the lead role. I was hooked. I got the lead role in several other highschool plays as the years followed. I loved acting. And I had a really, really good teacher. Mr. Koven was exceptional. Based on what he taught me, I also got A's in University drama classes.

Then came the turning point when I was 21. There was a musical and they had no director for the acting part. I originally went out to audition for a part but somehow I ended up directing the acting part of the musical. It was put on in the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse and sold out every night. I went on to direct several 'roadshow' performances. One was even adjudicated and we took first place and got rave reviews for children's theatre.

At first I didn't think I would enjoy directing as much as I enjoyed acting. And the first time it was hard to be behind stage instead of on the stage. But that opening night there was a certain buzz watching this show I had helped put on - watching the actors remember what I had taught them. I was hooked.

This afternoon my dance class started working on our dance performance. My young dancers have really learned a lot over the last couple of years. And this will be our most ambitious performance yet. It reflects what they have learned and mastered. They will all be on stage through the whole performance and there will be even more acting. I just get so excited. They respond to my suggestions and they remember what I teach them about the rules of the stage. It is indescribable. Its just so fun. It gets my creative juices going and it gets theirs going and we are bouncing ideas off of each other and something really great is coming together.

Thank you Mr. Koven. You were right.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Check this out - very interesting information about Swine Flu

Monday, November 02, 2009

Weighing In

Well, since the hysteria that has swept the world since the H1N1 virus first came to public attention last winter, I have been shaking my head. Now it dominates the news everyday and I have to question what exactly is going on...

From the very beginning I was not afraid of this virus. For one, I don't believe in germ theory. Evidence shows that we all have bacteria, viruses, cancerous cells, etc in us, on us, around us all the time. Normally our immune systems function to keep us healthy. When our immune system is depressed, through stress of some kind, either psychological or physical, or we are tired and worn out, then we are susceptible to infection. Studies have shown that those who are exposed to bacteria have healthier immune systems. Surely this mass fear fanned constantly by the media contributes more to depressed immune systems... This article expresses well what I have long believed.

When Kaetlyn was a baby, I came to the conclusion to stop vaccinating. Eryn had her shots to age 5 and Kaetlyn had her first set at 4 months. Andrew and Rhiannon have never been vaccinated. And you know what? Out of our family of 6 - 4 of us have been vaccinated and we all have some kind of auto-immune disease. Dean has asthma and severe allergies. I have hypothyroidism, Eryn has allergies and Kaetlyn has diabetes. Andrew and Rhiannon have none of these things. Of course, I know this is much too small of a sample size to be statistically significant. But it does make me wonder... I think we are doing dangerous damage to our immune system by these vaccinations. I think we need to be sick sometimes to strengthen our immune system.

And there has never been a longterm, statistically significant study looking at the possible side effects of vaccinations or even the effectiveness of them. For their efficacy those who promote vaccines site the fact that diseases like small pox and polio have now been almost eradicated. However, they fail to look at the big picture - like the fact that those diseases were already declining when vaccinations were started. That is called a co-relation and it is not proof. In fact, other diseases have also disappeared that we have not vaccinated for - like scarlet fever and bubonic plague. The fact is that the human immune system adapts over time and develops immunities naturally. Although what is happening now that we are not allowing it to do its job?

Right now in the media they talk as though the flu vaccine has a 100% track record for preventing the flu. Although I am sure everyone reading this post knows someone who has been vaccinated for the flu in the past and got it anyways. This is a very well written article about the usefulness of the vaccine.

Of course talking about children dying and healthy young athletes succumbing to the H1N1 is enough to strike fear in any parent's heart. However, it is just another way we are manipulated by the mass media that it is almost impossible to escape these days. It is news that is way out of perspective. Like if we saw a comparison with how many children die everyday from all causes and then looked at how many are dying from H1N1 we would see a bit more of a balanced picture. And if we looked at just how many children are not dying, who are healthy, maybe we could relax a little. And what if you knew that some of the children who have died for the H1N1 virus were even vaccinated against it? Maybe we could start hugging and shaking hands again...

And I have to ask myself, who is benefiting from all of this? The pharmaceutical companies are making money hand over fist. Their making a killing on this mass hysteria. Doesn't it make you scratch your head just a little bit? While stories about the side effects of the vaccine or the ineffectiveness of it just don't hit mainstream media.

Myself, I would love to turn the radio on and listen to something else other than the H1N1 virus! Enough already!

If you are interested in more about the vaccine, you can find links to several articles here. And you have to check out this article and ask yourself what they know that we don't.