Saying No to Love, helped me be more loving.

If all had gone as planned, this would be the final day of The 30 Day Love Explosion.  This a free program I offer every couple of years because I absolutely LOVE it.

I Love the impact it makes in people’s lives. I Love that people from 10 countries have done it. I Love hearing stories of friends and families transforming their relationships. I Love that the program is simple, intuitive, and based in science. 

Let’s face it – I love LOVE!

That’s why this year I decided to do it bigger and better. I hired someone to create a new site. We updated the workbook. We were all set to go.

I was excited and my team was ready.

Then I noticed something didn’t feel right. Nothing was wrong with the project. It was sparkling and fresh and better than ever – ready to spread more love around the globe.

Something was off in me. I was stressed. I noticed constriction and heaviness in my body, when I’m used to feeling light and expansive. I was feeling overwhelmed at times. 

I wasn’t able to be fully present in my life because my mind was bouncing with all the things I had to do.

  • My coaching practice is full.
  • I’m in the final phase of testing my new online course.
  • I’m settling into a new town and hosting friends and family I haven’t seen in years. 

I realized as I scanned by body, my mind, my schedule, and my priorities, that offering The 30 Day Love Explosion this October was one thing too many.

Even though I’d spent lots of time and money to make it better…Even though people had already signed up to participate…I knew I couldn’t show up fully in that program or other parts of my life if I spread myself too thin.

So at the last minute, I canceled it. By doing that, I followed the same advice I’ve given clients in the past.

It was a hard decision. Then it was a huge relief.  I was only able to make that decision because I was clear on what matters most to me. So even though I’m not immersed in The 30 Day Love Explosion this month, I’ve been able to show up with more Love by saying no to it… for now.  I promise you, there is more love to come 🙂

If you want help getting clear so you can live as your best self with less stress and overwhelm, check out my new Free Masterclass.

Do you need more of one and less of the other?

Remember the term “Think Global. Act Local.” It was coined by Scottish social activist and town planner, and revived by environmental groups decades later. It definitely got my generation thinking about the impact of our actions on the world around us. Which is a very good thing. But too much of a good thing can be bad.

I want to introduce a slight change to that phrase and encourage you to “Think Local. Act Local.” 

Here’s why:

And even though life is evolving and changing quickly – your nervous system isn’t. You’ve got the same complex, beautifully designed wiring as your ancestors. But your world is totally different.

“A single Sunday edition of the New York Times today contains more information than typical 19th-century citizens faced in their entire lifetime.” state the authors of a 2014 study in the journal Computer in Human Behavior.

Even if you never read the paper, you are being bombarded by news from all around the world constantly – wars, floods, drought, fires, shootings, uprisings, oppression, and extinctions.  It fills your social media feed, radio, tv and more.

And frankly my dear, your nervous system isn’t designed to handle it all. You are exquisitely designed to connect with people, overcome challenges, sense danger and respond appropriately. But when you’re exposed to thousands, and even millions, of other people’s lives, and situations beyond your influence or control, your system becomes overwhelmed.

You see tragedies whirring by – you click, maybe you donate, and you scroll on. You feel bad for a moment, then perhaps a bit of relief by replying, donating, or sharing a post.

You may look fine from the outside, but inside it’s a different story. Your nervous system gets activated, ready to fight or flee, but can’t physically act in the way it’s designed to do. You go about your day, but the effects linger inside you. Whether you’re aware of them or not.

When this happens you can experience all sorts of unpleasant symptoms…irritability, trouble sleeping, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, trouble focusing, indecisiveness, impulsivity, reduce work efficiency. It will also lead to reduced ability to properly weigh and interpret information. And if you want make sense of the world, that ability is vitally important these days.

So when it comes to being bombarded by news, being a little less informed may actually help you make better decisions. You’ll be less stressed, better rested, more efficient, better able to connect with others, and able to understand and interpret information. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make informed decisions! It’s just that you’re probably getting too much.

Some stories are so compelling you can’t stop watching, you need to stay up to date, but unless the information is enabling you to act right now to save yourself or others, you’re better off turning it off and doing something nourishing, restful, productive, life affirming in some way. You’ll be more resilient and able to handle challenges in your own life when they happen – and they will.

A study out of UC Irvine reported that people who watched 6 hours of coverage daily of the Boston Marathon for the week after the event, were more likely to have higher levels of acute stress than those who were at the event or near it. Hopefully that’s enough proof to get you to stop watching, scrolling, and getting sucked in.

You may think you’d never watch 6 hours of coverage a day of a tragedy, but it doesn’t have to be that much time to still have an impact. And it doesn’t’ have to just be one event. If you’re seeing multiple tragedies and sad stories daily, you’re creating excess stress you really don’t need.

So what do you instead of spending so much time “thinking globally”?

I want to hear your ideas, and I’ll share some of my own in my next installment.

Stop doing this if you want to be truly great.

Think of someone great. Someone who inspires you, really impresses the pants off you. It may be someone quiet and unassuming, or someone who makes a big splash in the world. It can be in any field.

Nelson Mandela, Jane Goodall, Steph Curry, Margaret Atwood, Greta Thunberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Lizzo…

Whoever it is, you know what this person does not do?

They don’t try to be someone they’re not. They don’t copy what others are doing. They are uniquely themselves, doing what they do in their own way. And that’s what you admire most.

Many of us see people doing great things, making a difference in the world and think “I want to do that too”. It’s wonderful to be inspired by others. Just know that you’ll never be truly great by imitating others.

Your greatness is a gift that is wrapped in your uniqueness. All your strengths and quirks. The things that make you different, and sometimes make you feel like you don’t fit in. Accept them. Embrace them. Express them. When you are authentically yourself you can be truly successful.

The world needs more great people. Be great at being you.

To your greatness, Debra

Please share this with someone you think is great!

Is this morning habit fueling or depleting you?

Want to up your energy, motivation, belief in your abilities, and general sense of well-being?

I thought you might.

One of the key indicators of how motivated, energized and happy you are, is your dopamine level. Dopamine is a neuromodulator that affects all of that and more.

A depletion of dopamine can be devastating. You can lack energy, motivation and sex drive. You might be moody and anxious, maybe even depressed. You have trouble sleeping and concentrating.

People with higher levels of dopamine are more energized, ambitious, and feel better about themselves. 

Dopamine is produced in your adrenal glands and released from your brain. Once it’s released it has to go somewhere.  It goes to your dopamine receptors where it can be used to light your fire, lift your mood and make you feel better.

There are many ways to optimize your dopamine that I share with my clients who are feeling sluggish and having trouble getting unstuck, and also with those who are over-driven and pushing themselves into burnout.

A morning coffee is one of those ways.

Coffee increases your dopamine receptors and makes them work more effectively, so they’ll pick up the dopamine swirling around inside you and make it more potent. VROOM VROOM!!

Here are 4 simple tips to get the most out of your morning coffee and fuel for your super powers.

1.  Use it as a ritual to awaken all your senses.

Hold the cup and feel the warmth seep into your hands. (I use a hand-made mug for extra sensory pleasure)

Bring the mug to your face and inhale the aroma. Much of your taste comes from smell so you’ll sharpen your taste by smelling it first.

Take your first sip and before you swallow just notice the textures and temperature in your mouth.

Before you take another sip, just notice how your body feels after touching, smelling and tasting.

Your morning coffee can be a meditation that gets you present early and sets the tone for a more mindful day.

2. Avoid that mid afternoon energy crash by delaying your first cup for 1.5 – 2 hours after you wake up.  Cortisol, the stress hormone that increases your energy and regulates your sleep/wake cycles, (as well as many other groovy things) is naturally higher in the morning. This means you’re naturally more energized and able to focus in the early hours.  If all things are working well in your body, it will peak within 2 hours of waking, drop and continue tapering off throughout the day.

If you drink caffeine as soon as you wake you’ll disrupt your cortisol’s natural flow, causing it to peak earlier and drop earlier. Your energy will decline and it will be harder to focus.  This can create dependency on caffeine to do what your body could be doing naturally.

If you avoid coffee for the first 1.5 – 2 hours you let cortisol, which controls many life affirming systems in your body, operate optimally.

Also when you wake, your adenosine, the neurotransmitter that promotes sleepiness, is at its lowest. It rises throughout the day.  Caffeine blocks adenosine from reaching its receptors, so even though adenosine is building in your brain throughout the day, you won’t feel it while caffeine is doing its thing.  If you started drinking too early and rely on caffeine too much you’ll feel the effects of adenosine in a more profound way later and you’ll feel sleepy, making you crave more caffeine.

Delaying your morning brew gets your body back into its natural incredibly elegant rhythm of energy ebbs and flows.

3. Stop drinking coffee 8 – 10 hours before you go to bed. Caffeine has a pretty long life in your body, but the length of time varies for all of us.  If you aren’t sure how long it takes for you to process caffeine, stop drinking coffee in the afternoon and see if you notice changes a few weeks or months from now.  Caffeine in your system will really mess with your sleep, even if you’re not aware that it’s happening. You may fall asleep quickly and feel like you sleep through the night but the quality of your sleep will suffer if caffeine is operating at a half-life, or even quarter-life inside you. That means you’ll wake tired and want caffeine right away, which can lead to the mid afternoon crash, more coffee, and on it goes.

4. Choose coffee that’s good for everyone. Coffee is big business. The way the crops are grown and produced can be devastating to people, animals, and the planet. When you buy coffee that is certified Fair Trade, Organic, Shade Grown or Bird Friendly, you’re supporting small-scale farmers, communities and sustainable practices that support different species. It’s another way you can do good for others while your coffee is doing good for you.


If you want to experiment with delaying coffee, it’s important to remember that you don’t break a habit, you change a habit. I’d love to hear what you do, or plan to do, during that time when you’d normally be drinking your first cup.

As I write this, I’m raising my cup of morning coffee to your health.

Cheers, Debra

PS. Please share this post with someone who could use some ongoing energy and motivation.

It might be time to start again.

Years ago, my husband and I sat in silence with a group of strangers in Joshua Tree for 10 days. As part of this Vipassana retreat, we meditated for about 10 hours every day. Each session of sitting would begin with a recording of the teacher, S.N.Goenke saying, “Start Again”. 

To this day my husband and I laugh and say, “Start again” when we’re attempting something hard, something awkward, anything really that needs to be started again. 

This past week I had a chance to start again. We’ve moved to a small town off the beaten track to anywhere – a far cry from Santa Monica, CA where friends always found a reason to be “passing through”. 

Some women friends, from my life in Vancouver decades ago, were going to be passing through my new town on their way to a backpacking adventure. I invited them to come stay with us. Actually, I kinda begged. We’d only just arrived and had no furniture, but they had camping gear, so it seemed quite doable.

They arrived. We ate, we drank, we walked and talked and talked some more. In pairs, in threes and as a whole group. We talked about beautiful, scary, and painful things.  

We laughed, we cried, and we hugged goodbye. My husband christened them, The Mama Wolfpack.

I’ve stayed close to one of these women and I’m in touch with her regularly. I was close to one, but we’d drifted apart. The third, I’d admired from a far in my earlier life, but never really gotten to know her. In this new setting and new stage of life I got to start again, and I can feel the roots of something deep growing.

I’m reminded that it’s almost never too late to start again, whether you’ve:

  • Skipped so many workouts that you’re feeling funky.
  • Had a fight with your kids, parents, partner or boss.
  • Fallen off the wagon so you’re drinking, over-eating, or smoking again.
  • Gotten off track from who you wanted to become.
  • Stop investing in your well-being or your finances.
  • Let a long time pass since you called that friend.

Stop saying these three words and just Start Again. Life is actually full of second chances. And third and fourth and more…

The Self Care practice you’re probably not doing.

I just learned that July 24th is International Self-Care Day.

I first thought, “Is that really a thing?”

Then I wondered if you might beat yourself up about it, thinking “Oh God, now I have to add self-care to my already massive list of things to do”.

I thought about some of my busy clients, with schedules so full there’s no white space. I remembered how that used to feel. Ugh

Rather than offer you any ideas about what you could or should be doing for self-care, the question I have for you is this:

What is one thing you could stop doing that would be an act of self-care?

Really, one thing. I’d love to hear!

My favorite quote right now is from the author of The Little Prince:

“Perfection is not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

May that inspire you as you create a life that is perfect for you. You may even elevate your life to a work of art.

Sometimes less really is more.

Feel free to share this with someone who could use a little less in their life.

How to do Hard things.

My best friend’s mom just died. That was a hard thing.

I had the privilege of being up close and personal with the process from the moment of diagnosis until after her last breath. It may seem strange to call it a privilege, but Beverly had a beautiful death, surrounded by people she loved, prayers, singing, and even laughter. Her daughter Nancy stayed by her side from the moment she entered hospice until long after she took her last breath. Nancy covered her in flowers, and sat in silence, until we all returned to sing her body in procession to the car that would take her to a forest on Salt Spring Island.

While it was exquisitely beautiful it was also really, really hard. Not just the final goodbye, which Nancy wasn’t ready for, but the whole rapid decline from seemingly healthy at the end of February, to gone at the beginning of June.  I learned a lot by living with my friend during that time and watching how she handled such a hard thing. And I want to share with you…

5 things I learned to get through a hard time.

1. Accept that most things are out of your control. Not just when things are hard, but always. Care people show up at the wrong time, or don’t show up at all, disease progresses faster than expected, flights are cancelled, baggage is lost, dogs poop on the rug, your kid gets dumped by his girlfriend.  What’s within your control is how you respond.* So…

2. Be kind. When you’re going through a hard time, you might become driven by your sadness, fear, anger, or even determination to get through. When things are hard for you it’s easy to become self-obsessed. You forget that others are going through hard times too. So that person who bangs into in the grocery store without apologizing may not be a jerk. She may have been up all night changing a loved one’s diapers, calming night terrors, or trying to get medications right. And don’t just be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Take naps, eat well, grab some time alone or with friends. And definitely…

3. Ask for help and accept help when it’s offered. My friend’s not one to ask for help. She’s usually on the giving side of the give/take equation. But during this time, she asked for and accepted help. She wisely asked people to do things they were good at and wanted to do. She didn’t expect it to be perfect. She just let them do what they could do in the way they wanted to do it. Any bit of help took some pressure off of her so she could focus on her mom. Whether people rush in to help or not…

4. Be appreciative. Not only did Nancy express her appreciation for friends who stepped in and offered support. She thanked each doctor, nurse, pharmacist, caretaker, janitor, and delivery person for doing their job. Many jobs are stressful, even more are thankless. People were touched by her appreciation and even that she noticed. She wrote cards, gave flowers and chocolates, but mostly just acknowledged what people were doing and said thank you.  To do this all, she had to…

5. Slow Down. When you’re facing something hard you’ll probably notice one of two impulses – Rush through it or Resist it. But unless you’re ripping off a bandage, the better way is to slow down. When you slow down you get a chance to feel your feelings and release them so they don’t build up and erupt in surprising ways when you least expect it. When you slow down you can pay attention to what’s needed, notice and appreciate others, and be present to whatever and whoever you are with. When you slow down you feel your own feelings, which might be scary but suppressed feelings don’t go away – they just get in the way. Slowing down, even briefly, can show you what you need. Hard times are great teachers if you’ll slow down to get the lesson. They are often riddled with beautiful moments if you’ll go slow enough to witness. Nancy’s days were full and challenging but almost every morning we took time on the couch to connect and do some somatic work to support her nervous system to do the hard things ahead. Find simple ways to slow down your experience so you can really be present to it.

*A note from #1 about being able to control yourself. When you’re scared or stressed your nervous system takes over. Once you’re in fight or flight or even freeze, you’re no longer your rational, compassionate, caring self. You are in survival mode. Have you ever looked back and wondered why you yelled or stood stunned? Have you ever been ashamed of your behavior and wished you’d been different? It’s easy to say you can control yourself but to be at your best in hard times, you have work to regulate your nervous system at all times. Find support and exercises to become more resilient. Practice those exercises when times are easy, so you’ve got them in your system when times are hard.

Please share this with someone who might be going through a hard time. And I’d love to hear what you do to get through something hard.

Anxious? This simple practice always helps.

When my clients report feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stuck, and generally in a funk, I recommend this simple practice for one week. It’s Dope.

When they do it they report feeing:

  • Calm and relaxed.
  • Happier and more confident.
  • More creative and able to focus.

Want some of that yourself?

Stay off all Social Media for one week.  That’s it. That’s the whole practice. I said it was simple. I didn’t say easy.

This simple strategy reduces anxiety and increases confidence and creativity 100% of the time. Here’s why:

It’s all about the Dopamine, baby. I told you it was dope 🙂

Dopamine is that neuromodulator that affects your sense of motivation, drive, productivity, satisfaction, and even your sense of time. You have a natural base-line level of dopamine. That baseline is different for each of us. Some things you do boost your dopamine above your baseline – drinking coffee, exercising, eating chocolate, having sex and yes… social media.

Your body is exquisitely fine-tuned to keep you in a state of homeostasis, so after experiencing a boost of dopamine your dopamine level will drop below your baseline. What does that mean for you?

Since a rise of dopamine above your baseline makes you feel motivated and energized, a drop below your baseline makes you feel unmotivated, flat, moody. Feeling that way sucks, so you’ll want to grab the closest and easiest dopamine boosting agent you can. You won’t want to do anything challenging cause you’re in a low-motivation funk. And what’s the simplest dopamine hit – you’re probably holding it in your hand. Scrolling just a little longer seems like it will make you feel better, but it doesn’t.

Whether your dopamine hit comes from chocolate, coffee, exercise, nicotine, social media or any of the other dopamine boosters, you don’t get that same initial hit with repeated use. The initial dopamine response gets weaker and shorter with prolonged use, but the after-effects get stronger and longer. More funk. Less fun. This is commonly known as addiction. Craving more and more of a stimulant to feel better, with diminishing effects. It would be like watching your favorite movie over and over and over again. You want to feel the way you felt the very first time you watched it, but you can’t get that same high. It may be enjoyable at first but that pleasure will diminish over time.

Tech companies know this. That’s why they hire top neuroscientists to make their sites stickier <- Just another word for addictive.

If you’ll give yourself a break, and not give in to the addictive pull of social media of any kind, your dopamine level will return to its natural baseline. You’ll have more motivation to do other things. That will boost your creativity, productivity, sense of well being and confidence.

If you’re thinking “I just can’t stay off Social Media”, I’d like you to get creative and ask yourself “How can I stay off Social Media for just one week?” When you ask yourself empowering questions, your mind will go looking for an answer.

If your job requires you to be on Social Media, as is the case with many of my clients, you can do this:

Schedule the times you’ll be on social media. Keep that time to a minimum. Set a timer as soon as you open whatever apps you’re using. When the alarm rings, turn it off.

Know why you’re using it. What is the goal you want to achieve for your work while you’re in there? Focus on that and do it. Then put it away.

Stop yourself from mindless scrolling. As soon as you catch yourself scrolling, as soon as you’ve lost track of the reason you’re there for your work, shut it down.

After a week’s break from addictive scrolling, notice how you feel and what you’ve accomplished.  And if you know someone who’s feeling funky and struggling to get sh*t done, feel free to share this with them, and maybe go social-media-free together!

I haven’t touched on the effects of comparing your real world feelings to the perfectly curated and coiffed lives your scrolling through, but if you find yourself slipping into despair when you compare, this might help.

I’d love to hear what a week without social media changes for you.

Walk your Desire Path.

How do you know if the Path You’re On will lead you to your heart’s desire?

“Desire Path” is a term used in landscaping. It refers to a path created by people or animals walking regularly through an area. It’s a different path from the one that was planned and laid out. In this photo the planned path is off to the right. The Desire Path is roped off to try to give the newly planted grass a chance to grow.

Can you guess what’s gonna happen as soon as those ropes are removed? You got it – people are gonna walk that path again – because that’s the path they desire.

Why do people leave the nice, smooth, planned path and create a new one? Why not follow the plan and walk the path that experts spend time and money building?

The main reason is that the desire path is more direct. It will get you where you want to go faster.

Often the desire path is easier. It may not look that way from the outside, but it feels easier when you’re on it because it’s aligned with who you are.

A few common features of Desire Paths:

  • They aren’t planned in advance.
  • They’re created over time through repetition.
  • It’s a natural instinct (intuition, desire) that drives people and animals to walk this way.
  • Nobody is telling anyone they should do it.
  • They’re not as fancy or proper as the planned path.
  • They’re natural, organic and may change over time.

What has any of this got to do with you if you’re not a city planner or landscaper?

Most of us find ourselves walking the planned path for much of our lives. We get the education, the job, the house, the car, the clothes, the vacations, the partner, the life that others have determined to be the path. Usually, we’re not even aware that we’re doing it.

You and I have picked up messages over the years about how life should be lived. Those messages come from parents, relatives, neighbors, friends, religious leaders, companies and most definitely from social media. These messages have formed unconscious patterns that drive our thinking and actions.

Carl Jung wrote, “Until you make the unconscious conscious it will direct your life and you will call if fate.”

Okay, cool. But how do you make the unconscious conscious?

Try this simple practice:

Notice any time you’re thinking, “I’ll be [fill in the blank] when…” For you, that blank could be, “happy, peaceful, lovable, successful…” Whatever fills your blank is your Desired State, and that acts as a carrot out in front of you, keeping you on the planned path. The path you think you should be on.  You stay on the path to get to the desired state… one day.

Maybe you’re getting an education in the field you think will pay the best because then you’ll feel secure. You’re working your ass off, always on the verge of burnout because once your business has reached a certain level, then you can relax. You’re looking for a mate who will make you feel lovable. If you’re on the planned path to feel secure, comfortable, peaceful, loved…

Then consider:

What might be a more direct path?

Like the Desire Paths created in cities and parks, your desire path can be found by listening to your intuition and taking a direct step towards what you most desire. Don’t wait to have the money, success, or mate that you think will give you what you want.

I’m not saying you should drop out of school, quit your job, empty your retirement investments or stop dating. Just stop expecting any of those things to truly satisfy you.

If you’re not even sure what it is you desire, this post can help you get clear.

I help clients get clear on their desires and then achieve them in direct ways that are authentic to them. From my years of experience with people from all different walks of life, I can assure you that what you really desire is already inside you. Let that desire guide your next step. It will lead you to your true self and your true path.

Feel free to share this with anyone who could use a nudge onto their own desire path.


Make summer last longer.

Last weekend I was at a wedding in Sequoia National Park. It was full of music and colour and animal masks. The giggling groom in his purple suit and lavender mohawk set the merry tone. After the last child arrived on a fiberglass unicorn and the bride settled in next to her mate in a gorgeous white gown with a multi-coloured train, the officiant invited all of us to take a moment to become present. To ourselves and our surroundings.

I immediately felt what I was sitting on. As I did, my body relaxed into itself, fully supported by the bench beneath me, the friends around me,  and the trees surrounding us all. The moment I became aware of my body, I heard the birdsong enveloping us. A symphony had been playing all around me, but I’d not noticed until I stopped to become aware of myself. Now I could hear sounds within the sounds, rich and layered and soft at the same time.

I felt the evening air on my face and my silk shawl caressing my shoulders. My ribs moved out in every direction with my breath as I expanded through the quiet inside me.

It all took a minute. Maybe two. But everything changed in that short time. It’s an over-used and somewhat corny expression, but “time stood still”.

Before that shift in time, I’d been excited and happy and wondering what would come next, but I’d not been truly present to all that was happening around me and within me. By taking a moment to become aware, I slowed everything down. There was a shift from my experience before that moment and everything that came after.

We’re all so busy, connected, and distracted much of the time that it can feel like life is speeding by. The easiest way to slow down time and make more of it, is to simply become present. Any time.

Summer is a great time to do it.

If you want to make summer last longer this year, take a moment every day to become present.

  • Step outside in the morning and feel the sun on your face.
  • Walk barefoot on the grass and let it caress your toes.
  • Listen to the sounds of birds singing, kids laughing or squirrels fighting.
  • Look at your food before you eat it and give thanks to everyone and everything involved.
  • Notice the changing position of the sunset each day. Watch it until it drops away.
  • Taste that bite of peach like you’ve never tasted it before.
  • Hug someone and feel your body breathe.
  • Savour a kiss as if it’s a summer night and you have nowhere else to be.

Enjoy a moment everyday and summer will linger in your soul.

I’d love to hear how you slow time down and make summer last.