Do you have anyone in your life who you quote regularly who has no idea that you do this?

You go to tell them once or twice, but you’re not sure if it would be one of those “Wow, I’m so flattered!” moments, or one of those “Ummm . . . thanks . . .” [awkward pause where no one is really sure what to say to move the conversation forward] moments, and so you hold off on disclosing just how far inside your head they’ve gotten?

For me it’s my ND (naturopathic doctor).

I started seeing him about two and half years ago at a point in my healing and wellness journey when I recognized that I needed support from someone with a more holistic approach to health. Over the years he’s helped with things as varied as increasing my protein intake to following through on my intention to build community as I settled into my #freshstart in Toronto.

I’ve continued to seek the help of other health practitioners since I first starting seeing him. There have even been months between our appointments at times. But he’s kind of been my home base as far as my well being is concerned since he first challenged me (well, if I’m honest, pissed me off) during one of my early appointments with him by introducing an idea with the sentence: “You have a hard life.”

That was the first time something he said really got to me. Stirred up my emotions. Challenged me body, mind, and spirit. I remember going on a long walk to process and dropping mental F bombs left, right, and centre, thinking, “I have hard things in my life. I do not have a hard life. People living in abject poverty have hard lives. Families fleeing war have hard lives. do not have a fucking hard life!”

We sorted that one out at my next appointment (with me admitting that we can only change that which we are aware of, and understand, and him agreeing that “hard things in my life” would do the trick if that language resonated with me more), and ever since he’s been dropping phrases here and there that have helped guide me to new insights about myself and my path to wellness.

One of my favourites?

“When a space opens up, resist the urge to fill it.”

This in reference to my tendency to over program myself, often leaving insufficient time to just . . . be.

To think. Wander. Process. Create. Restore.

I use this one all the time. For a while I was literally blocking out “Resist the urge to fill it” times in my weekly calendar so as to avoid having to back out of stuff once I realized I needed some alone time to break up back-to-back commitments.

Really, though, it’s a reference to seizing upon the “just being” space created when something falls off (e.g. someone cancels plans, or an event I thought would take four hours ends up taking two) instead of immediately filling it with another commitment.

So when yesterday a friend was later than I was expecting for our plans, I resisted my urge to immediately sub in another activity based on my assumption that I suddenly had space to fill.

Good thing too. He did end up showing up and we passed a very nourishing day together during which we locked down our respective 2016 goals and made vision boards. Or, rather, I finally finished a vision board begun six months earlier that I’d been adding to bit-by-bit over the fall. I hadn’t realized it as I did this, but in moving this slowly I was once again following my ND’s advice. Resisting the urge to fill “space” just because it was open.


Then yesterday evening, as I reflected upon my six goals for the year, and the specific actions I’ve initiated in the first few months of the year to realize them, another favourite in my “shit my naturopath says” lexicon came to mind.

“When it’s time to rest, rest.”

After two years of volunteering as a crisis line counsellor, once a week for the first year and a half (including one overnight shift a month), and lately about three shifts a month, I have had to confront the fact that I need a rest.

While I continue to find this work incredibly fulfilling and aligned to my purpose, I had to recognize that when coupled with some of the other care roles in my life, I was finding it harder and harder to recover from the often heavy content passing through me. In fact, it wasn’t passing. And I was feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the heavy.

So last night, after some pretty awesome vulnerable talk with my vision boarding buddy about how a few calls I’d had on the line in recent weeks were staying with me far longer than normal, and how I was realizing I might need to shift the balance between instances where I give, vs. receive, care in my life, I wrote an email to the amazingly understanding volunteer coordinators at the centre I volunteer with to let them know I wouldn’t be taking shifts again until March at the earliest.

“When it’s time to rest, rest.”