Shirley Vollett - July 2012  


 Shirley Vollett
Life and Relationship Coach



In honour of Mother’s Day:  Some TIPS on Understanding the Mother-Daughter Dynamic

I am a daughter.  I am also the mother of a daughter. I have developed more compassion for my mother, my daughter and myself through reading a book by the linguist, Deborah Tanen –- entitled You’re Wearing That?  Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation. 

Why are we so sensitive?

According to Tanen, a mother’s CARING is often interpreted as CRITICISM by her daughter. Given that a mother’s mandate is to protect and care for her children, she is in the habit of asking many questions about the comings and goings of her daughter.

However once her daughter is an adult, a mother’s questions may be interpreted as controlling or intrusive -– or as an indication that the daughter isn’t competent to handle her own affairs.  Given that a daughter deeply desires the APPROVAL of her mother, any suggestion that she isn’t competent, can be unintentionally hurtful.

A personal example of this breakdown 

A few years ago my husband and I attended a concert with our then 19 year old daughter, who had been living on her own for over 6 months.  Afterward, she was heading to a friend’s home in a nearby municipality, by public transit, late in the evening.  She made it clear that she didn’t need or want a ride, however I was concerned about her arriving safely.

I asked my daughter to call when she arrived, so we would know that she was safe.  She bristled at the request and didn’t call.  She was also annoyed when both my husband and I called the next morning to see if she was OK.  I felt hurt and misunderstood.  I felt my concern was misinterpreted as distrust, when it was really coming from caring.

After reading Tanen’s book I decided to debrief the interaction again with my daughter, to see if she had taken my concern as criticism. Sure enough, my protectiveness was perceived as a failure to recognize her independence -- and also as a criticism of her judgement. As she saw it, she’d been living on her own for months, making many late night bus rides quite safely, without consulting us.

As a mother, what can you do?

1)    Tanen recommends that mothers find ways to be helpful to their adult daughters OTHER than giving advice and protection.  Your daughter can get advice from any number of people.  (And she can always ASK for your advice, if she wants it.)

2)    Try reframing her defensiveness as a need for autonomy and approval. The most important way that you can help your daughter is by giving your endorsement of her choices.  Your vote of confidence matters like none other.

3)    What if she doesn’t do things the way you would wish or you can’t approve of her choices?  Says Tanen, “Say less, not more.”  Leave the issue alone, or the distance between you will grow.  If a mother keeps referring to it, then the daughter is likely to minimize the time she spends with her mother. (The exception to this advice may be situations when you perceive actual danger – such as an abusive relationship -- and must speak up.)

 As an independent grown daughter, what can you do?

1)  Find ways to involve your mother in your life, without compromising your own independence.  Mother’s of grown daughters may feel powerless regarding how often they’ll get to see their daughter or their grandchildren.  Some may act needy or demanding.  If as a daughter you are proactive about arranging times and ways to be with your mother (in ways that feel good for you), it may preclude difficulties.

2)  Try changing your response when your mother says something that is hurtful.  Instead of becoming reactive and defensive, you can ask your mother what she meant by her comment.  Did she mean to be hurtful?  By asking, you can discover what her intent was, rather than assuming that it was harmful.  Experiment with reframing her comments as expressions of caring, not criticism.

Mothers and daughters long to be seen and loved for who they are NOW.


Shirley Vollett BSW PCC is a life-long student of relationships and what makes them tick!  As a Life and Relationship Coach, she provides professionals, executives and business owners with compassionate coaching for life, love and work.  Her passion is empowering single/divorced women and men acquire the skills and attitudes needed to avoid past relationship problems and create a powerful game plan for attracting the “right” partner.  Sign up for her Fulfilling Relationships newsletter or follow her blog at



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Leanne Shyry

Lianne Shyry
Two Bees Apiary



Welcome Spring!

As an urban beekeeper in the City of North Vancouver, I am often asked by gardeners what they can plant to attract beneficial insects, mainly pollinators. The more pollinators frequenting your yard will increase the yields on fruit trees and veggie gardens that you may already be growing. Unfortunately, in the last few years our native and domesticated bee populations have been declining. They are threatened by habitat loss, disease, and pesticide use. Luckily, choice plantings can help immensely.

Butterflies, bumble bees, honey bees, and ladybugs are just a few beneficial insects that may be attracted to the plantings in your yard. British Columbia has over 400 types of native bees, including the well-known mason bee. Now before you get squeamish and say I don’t know if I want those ‘bugs” in my yard, won’t I get stung? --the answer is, not likely. The beneficial insects that are attracted to your yard are focused on working.

Going from flower to flower, gathering nectar, and pollinating as they go along. You may start noticing that different bees work different plants. Bumblebees will love your tomatoes, very small native mason bees will be on the mint and honey bees are all over the lavender. This is due to their tongue size and how the different plants flowers are shaped. Keep in mind, the insects that bother you at your picnic table are the wasps and hornets. They are the carnivores and are after your hamburger!

We’re lucky enough to live in a place with a long, and even annual, growing season. Here are some of my favorites that do well in our climate. Many of the plants I recommend are not just attractive but useful. Herbs are a wonderful addition, not just attractive but edible too.

Edibles: Go ahead, hum the tune Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme! Then add in mint, lavender, basil, marjoram, lemon balm, and fennel. If you allow some of your kale and lettuce to go to seed not only will you feed the bees but the flowers are an edible and zingy delight in your salad.

Berries: Blueberries and Raspberries

Fruit trees: Apple, cherry, and plums

Pretty: Borage, heather, lavender, sunflowers, bee balm (bergamot), poppies, wooly lambs ear, catnip, and crocus

Some of the earliest forage for the bees are your dandelions. You can tell your neighbours you’re leaving them to save the bees!


Lianne is an urban beekeeper passionate about the urban agriculture movement. Her business, Two Bees Apiary, sells beekeeping equipment, supplies and glassware. For more information please visit  or email her at

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Laurie McLean

Simple techniques to avoid a big mess!



I often chat with gals from SWAN about their décor and home improvement ideas and concerns, particularly when it comes to painting. Although they’re excited about the planning and the outcome, many find the task a mess, time consuming and dread the cleanup. Painting can be rewarding and relaxing if you follow some of my simple paint routines:


First, the Brush

The Brush is an important application tool that has two roles: 1. to get the paint from the container onto the surface, and 2. to move the paint around the a shovel and a smushing tool...that's all. The better the brush, the better the quality and volume of bristles. The more bristles, the more paint the brush can hold on a single "dip". This principle applies to any size and shape of brush. Since I clean my brushes thoroughly, I don't have to buy them very often. Money well spent.

Second, the Brush Pot


The problem isn't so much with the brush as with HOW we dip or apply the paint to the brush and here's a simple suggestion:

Always work from a second pot or container with ample room for "tapping" the brush on the inside walls of the container. I call this the Brush Pot.

I NEVER work from the original paint can. Instead, I pour about 1.5-2" of the paint into a second brush pot. Not too high that I bury the metal neck or "ferrule" of the brush. That's another huge mess! Using the brush, I wipe the inside of the lid clean, I wipe out the gutters of the original can clean, and I wipe the sides of the can where I poured. I always pour away from the front label side of the might need that info later. I then replace the lid and set the original can away in my "shop" area I set aside for all of my tools and paints... out of the way.

Now I have a roomy brush pot for my brush and ample paint to work with. I dip, then apply 1-2 quick taps of the brush on the inside walls of the can, and poof! the paint fills the volume of bristles and will not drip from your brush. You are ready to "shovel" it onto the wall.

Third, the Resting Brush


Another source of drips and mess is leaving the brush sitting on top of the can while you do something else. If you need to set your brush down for a moment or an hour....just leave it sitting in the paint. It's happy there. It's moist, it's safe and out of the way. There's a couple inches of paint on the bottom of the brush pot that the brush can rest in.




Fourth, the Roller Sleeve and Tray


Another potential area of drips and mess is activity around the roller and tray. I like to use very stable trays and I always keep the floor area where I am working clutter free. Keep the tray well ahead of you and in the direction of your rolling progress.

Try not to fill your tray with too much paint, as in this image. The paint is rolling up and over the "ribs" on the tray and gives you little room to "load" your roller sleeve. Dip the sleeve, and distribute evenly and with light pressure over the ribs of the tray. Dip again, and distribute with the ribs, and so on and so on until you feel the sleeve is well absorbed with paint. Always using light pressure on the wall and in the tray will keep your sleeve "fluffy" and holds more paint with every load. More paint means more production and an easier job for you. Once the sleeve becomes too compressed from "scrubbing" the walls with too much pressure, the fluff cannot pick up more paint and you now have gobs of paint dripping from your sleeve. Light and fluffy is the trick!


Laurie McLean, Vancouver, Canada, is a journeywoman painter and the owner of Handy Granddaughter, a handywoman service for seniors and an Independent Consultant with Tomboy Tools, Inc.
Contact Laurie for more information.


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Kathy Suffel

Downsizing – not just for seniors!

Typically we talk about downsizing as an option for our parents and grandparents – seniors who are ageing and finding themselves less mobile and less able to look after a large home and property.  But it can be so much more!

Here we are - many of us anyway, approaching retirement, or recently retired.  We are healthy and fit, with a zest for life and keen to enjoy new experiences.  Our children are on the verge of moving out, or already gone.  Perhaps we are still working, but free to live and work anywhere we choose.  If nothing else, we are surely interested in lowering our living expenses, and having a lot less responsibility for maintaining a big home and property that may no longer suit our existing (or desired) lifestyles.

If any of these situations describe you, or reflect the life you want to have, then now is the time to start thinking seriously about how downsizing from a large family home can help you achieve your new and inspired life goals.  It can give you a fresh lease on life, and the personal freedom and financial security you need to move into the next stage of your life!

Think about it!  If you could live in a condo along the Seawall, a turnkey property that allows you to hop on the Seabus and be out to the airport in less than an hour to jet away to Mexico or Europe, wouldn’t you?  Or then again, in the same amount of time, you could mow the lawn at your big, high-maintenance property!

If you follow the HGTV show Live Here Buy This, you will have learned that for $260,000 you can own a farmhouse in Granada, Spain.  Or buy a rustic stone apartment with a spa bathroom in Umbria, Italy.  Or if you have a soft spot for Southern hospitality, you could own a 3 bedroom cottage with a huge backyard in South Carolina.  Again, think about it . . . what is $260,000 compared to the value of an average North Vancouver home?  Yes, my point exactly.  It is possible!

If you want to stay right here at home, think about closing the door on that big house where the work never ends and living on a float home in the harbour.  Play golf every day, ride your bike around Stanley Park, enjoy cocktails and appetizers on a waterfront patio.  Granted, that’s my dream and it may not be yours, but the point is that lifestyle options - location, type of home, travel or not, recreation focused – they are all your choices to make.  You don’t have to live a house-rich, fun-poor life.

Dreaming is great, but before you make any life-altering decisions, get some good advice.  Speak to your family, your financial advisor, your doctor, your lawyer, your REALTOR®.  Weigh the options, and then go for it!  Live your life to its fullest potential.  Have some fun – we all deserve it!


KATHY SUFFEL is a REALTOR® with Sutton West Coast Realty in North Vancouver.  She loves helping North Shore families - particularly seniors - find the best homes for their changing situations.  She focuses on her client’s dreams and goals, working with a team of home-related service providers, to ensure that their move from one happy home to the next is simplified, much less stressful and done with ease and comfort.





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Dana Smithers - PRES Staging Resource Center



Dana Smithers
PRES Staging Resource Center


Creating Your FANTASTIC Elevator Speech!

As a business owner you will be introducing yourself to other people on a regular basis. You need to have a quick 30 second infomercial ready about yourself when you meet someone for the first time. This is also known as your ‘elevator speech’. You will use this most often when you are networking and you have heard me say this a million times “Networking is one of your 3 'Must Do' marketing strategies if you really want to grow your business”.

Here are a few key Networking Tips:

  • The way to make the most of attending a networking event is to come well prepared. Most networking events expect at the least, that you will introduce yourself through your 'elevator speech' and give others your business card. If you are a member of a networking group you may also be able to create a table display which gives you more visibility.
  • Before I go to any networking event I always like to set my intention so I know what results I expect to 'get and give' at a particular event. Networking does take work and it takes time. You need to attend often and follow up with people you meet. People need to KNOW YOU, LIKE YOU & TRUST YOU before they will BUY FROM YOU. And they can't do this from just one quick introduction – it’s like asking someone to marry you on the first date!
  • To make the most of your time, it is best to have your website up and running even if it is not 100% completed. Most networkers will go directly to your website to learn more about you. Just like home staging you only get 1 chance to make a great first impression - so make the most of it!
  • Typically you have anywhere from a few seconds to give your elevator speech to several minutes. You might use it quite literally when you are in an elevator and someone asks you what you do. In some more structured groups like BNIs (Business Networking International) you may have 60 seconds to talk about yourself and let the other members know what type of ideal client/referral you are looking for.
  • If you are new to the world of networking and nervous, there is nothing that says you can't type it up and have it on a piece of paper to read from. Or try writing just your few key points on index cards or in your phone to refer to if you need to. Most experienced networkers realize that we all started just like you! Go with a friend if you are really nervous or join a Toastmaster's group to gain your confidence.

If you follow this simple proven 7 Steps to Creating Your FANTASTIC Elevator Speech Formula you can adjust it like an accordion. Write up 2 versions so that you have your 'short version' and your 'expanded version'.

I'll share my longer version (I can easily shorten it) with you here as if I was introducing myself as a Home Staging Expert and Instructor to a networking group. Script it so it is fairly conversational.

  1. Your NAME & Your BUSINESS NAME - Hello my name is Dana Smithers. I am a Home Staging Expert, founder and instructor of the PRES Staging Training programs.
  2. Who your IDEAL CLIENTS are - I teach and coach aspiring home stagers how to become successful and confident business owners.
  3. What your ideal clients STRUGGLE with - Many students are new entrepreneurs and have no idea even where to start to build their business. They struggle with lack of confidence in getting clients and with charging what they are really worth.
  4. What OUTCOMES you can help your clients with – I give them the tools and knowledge they need to create their marketing materials to attract their ideal clients.  With coaching they gain their confidence and understand the value of their services.
  5. What MAKES YOU DIFFERENT (your USP) – In the 5 day PRES staging course students gain in-depth business knowledge and actually go into real clients’ homes to apply what they learned in the classroom. Ours is the only course that is taught in one of the most successful staging rental companies so students get firsthand experience working with vacant homes. Because of the classroom training and practicum they gain their confidence quickly and they know what they need to do next!
  6. What is your CALL TO ACTION - If you would like to know more, I am offering $200 off for my next course but only until … (put a date in here) and if you know of anyone I offer a $100 referral fee. Class sizes are limited so act NOW!
  7. Use a MEMORABLE TAG LINE - We do more than just transform homes; we turn your passion into profit!


Dana J. Smithers, President of SWAN Network and the PRES Staging Resource Centre is the author of Start & Run a Home Staging Business, and has written several eBooks for the DIY Home Seller.  She left a successful 20 year corporate job to launch her first solopreneur business, Sun On My Back Redesigns over a decade ago and now thrives on teaching her certified professional PRES® staging training courses on-line and off-line.



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Linda Senenki - Social Synergy Design

Linda Senenki, CGD
Owner, Social Synergy Design


Need a graphic designer? Here’s how to help choose the right one.
Graphic designers help companies achieve visual communication goals. When you are looking for a graphic designer, it is important you know what to look for. Here are a few points to consider when choosing the best designer for your upcoming project.


Experience is very important. A professional graphic designer can only survive if they are providing excellent services to their clients and the length they are in business is one of the key factors to determine this.

Design Portfolio

The design samples will give you a good amount of insight into the previous work that has been completed. It will make your decision easier because from here you can get an idea if the work the designer produces goes along the lines of your preference or not. Look for work that shows creativity, organization, and attention to detail.

Professional Certification

The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada has a Certified Graphic Designer (CGD) certification. It is a standards-based certification that is earned only through an examination and portfolio review process and only after accumulating a combined education and work experience of at least seven years. A designer with the CGD certification is recognized across Canada.

Design Process

The process of completing the project and showing it to clients involves various steps. The ease of use and the readiness of the designer’s system that is in place are also important in order to determine the effective flow of work. Make sure your time is not wasted in lost emails and without a proper history of conversations, which took place before or after the design process.


Testimonials can help you get an idea of what a designer is like to work with. Don’t hesitate to ask the graphic designer for a reference or two. A professional designer will be able to provide you with a reference you can contact and have a conversation with

The right graphic designer will help to express business objectives visually and create ideas for a specific purpose. The outcome should be thoughtful, visual communications that make your message clear.



Social Synergy Design is a graphic design agency tailored to meet the needs of social enterprise with big goals and small budgets. When a project is complete, we donate a percentage of our fees back to our client’s organization. Owner, Linda Senenki, CGD has over 15 years of experience in graphic design and branding. Contact Linda at or visit our website




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Paying Yourself First

On November 8th, 2012, posted in: Latest SWAN Blog by

Annie Kvick - Pay Yourself First

By Annie Kvick, CFP, B.Ed.

Think saving is just too hard?  The secret to saving money and accumulating wealth is to pay yourself first. The first bill you pay each month should be to yourself. Regular and consistent contributions to savings go a long way toward building a long-term nest egg, and also allow you the freedom to realize your short term goals.

What does “pay yourself first” mean?

Paying yourself first simply means putting money into your savings account first — as soon as you get paid and before you spend money on anything else. If you make saving a habit, it can help to build tremendous wealth.

When you pay yourself first, you are mentally establishing saving as a priority.

You are telling yourself that your future is important too. Most Canadians have great intentions to save, but they wait to see whether there is anything left over at the end of the month. When they find nothing left, savings don’t grow and they don’t meet their goals.

Are you waiting to save until something changes –your business takes off, you get a raise, the kids are done hockey?  There will always be reasons to not save and the longer you put saving off, the harder it is to create good financial habits and get to your goals.

Paying yourself first creates sound financial habits.

Most people prioritize their spending in this order: bills, fun, saving. In most cases there is little left over to put in the bank. If you pay yourself first — saving, bills, fun, in that order, — you set the money aside before you find other reasons to spend it.

Let’s be honest: If you don’t implement the saving habit now, there will always be reasons to put it off.

Start small

Don’t be afraid to start small. You can increase the amount you save as you begin to feel more confident and/or your income increases.  Try starting with $50 each month or 1% of your paycheque. As you feel more comfortable in your ability to save, try increasing your saving rate to 3% or even 5% of your income and build from there.

The easiest way to develop a pattern of saving is to use automatic deductions. By automating your saving, you’ll never know it is missing. Make it invisible. Automatic saving can be set up online or by contacting your investment/savings provider.  Deductions from your paycheque can automatically be put into your savings account before you get a chance to spend it.

Once contributing to your savings accounts has become a habit, you can use this magic for your short term goals as well.  Do you want a yearly vacation, an emergency fund, a new car, or a new house? Open free online savings accounts at your bank, nickname the accounts “vacation”, “car” etc. and start saving with automatic monthly deposits. Most institutions allow 5-10 free online savings accounts. Before you know it, your money will accumulate and you will have saved for things that are important to you. Whether you are saving for retirement or a vacation, this simple skill will help you achieve all your financial goals.

Paying yourself first gives you the freedom you deserve — it opens a world of opportunities.

Annie Kvick is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner and associate of Money Coaches Canada. She helps people become financially fit, organize their finances, make smart financial decisions, reach their goals and find financial peace of mind – without selling any products or investments. 604-803-7974




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by Suzanne Sutherland,

October is 'Breast Cancer Awareness Month' or as I like to think of it 'Breast Health Awareness Month'

Women tend to be more conscious of their breasts in October then any other month due to the pink ribbons everywhere. This brings breast cancer and the need to find a cure to our attention.

But what about Breast Health?

We often get concerned about the shape and size of our breasts but what truly matters is how healthy they are.  In order to develop breast cancer that particular breast would have to become unhealthy first.

How can we tell if our breasts are becoming unhealthy?

There may be signs and symptoms (see breast health tips below) but for many, nothing can be seen by the naked eye or felt by touch until a tumour is large enough. Did you know that it can take up to 8-10 years for a tumour to grow to a size that can be detected on a mammogram let alone be discovered during a physical exam?

So what if there was a test that could give you an inside view of the health of your breasts?

There is.  It's called Breast Thermography and it is one of the best early detection systems available today.

Thermographic imaging (visual images of heat) has been used for many years in all sorts of industries including the military, oil, construction as well as health.  In fact it was the US military that officially declassified Thermography for the purpose of 'Breast Cancer prevention' back in the 1960s.

Images of your breasts are taken using a high tech infrared camera (much like sitting for a portrait photo). There is no touching, no radiation and it is totally safe and pain free. The images are then sent to be analyzed for signs of inflammation and abnormal blood vessels. The breasts are then graded from very low risk of developing future breast cancer all the way to very high risk.

The Next Step

Even with low risk there can still be some inflammation but as the inflammation increases so does the risk of breast cancer. Abnormal blood vessels also increase risk.  If the risk is high or very high the recommendation would be to follow up with a mammogram and an Ultrasound for a medium risk. The majority of women fall into the low to medium risk category and the good news is that you can really improve your breast health by following the tips below, with the possible addition of a natural supplement to detox the breasts.

Breast Health Tips

1) Regular Thermographic imaging.

2) Look in the mirror. Know what is normal and pay attention to changes ie. discoloration, thickening, nipple discharge or inversion and puckering.

3) Have an annual breast exam by a qualified professional in addition to regular self exams.

4) Go without a bra when you can. If you need to wear one make sure it fits well and is made of natural fibre. Avoid underwire bras.

5) Reduce your caffeine intake.


So for this October I wish you all the breast of health 🙂

Suzanne Sutherland is a Registered Homeopath and Certified Thermographic Technician.

She loves the challenge of guiding clients back to wellness through a combination of nutritional/lifestyle counselling and homeopathic treatment.  Her driving passion is raising awareness on breast health and helping women become more proactive in reducing their risk of breast cancer. “Early detection is important but prevention is the key.” Contact Suzanne about her October discount.

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Hail Kale!!

On September 7th, 2012, posted in: Latest SWAN Blog by

Patti Smyth & Nancy Buchanan talk Kale at

Patti Smyth & Nancy Buchanan

As Registered Holistic Nutritionists we always recommend a whole foods based diet.  Eating whole foods in their natural state is a healthy sustainable way to eat – always.  When you eat food that hasn’t been processed, refined or denatured you’re getting all the fibre, vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients that Mother Nature intended you to have.  Out of the abundance of wonderful food nature designed, there are a few stars.  These ‘stars’ are powerhouses in the nutrient world.  One of the stars you may be hearing a lot about is kale.  Not only can you purchase kale locally, but is grown all year round so there is always plenty of fresh kale available.

So, why should you eat this powerhouse plant?  Here are just a few of the benefits:

-   Superstar in the arena of carotenoids and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from free radicals

-   High doses of vitamin C, vitamin A, and manganese

-   Excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin which protect the eyes from macular degeneration

-   Kale has a leading dietary role in avoiding chronic inflammation

-   Low in calories

-   Good source of fiber, iron and calcium – kale’s calcium is actually more absorbable than calcium from spinach

-   Kale is a cruciferous plant (like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) and a diet high in cruciferous vegetables can lower risk of some cancers

How to buy:
  look for deeply coloured, crisp, textured leaves free of blemishes and yellow spots – avoid limp or wilted leaves.  There are many varieties: Dinosaur, Italian, Tuscan, Curly, Scotch, Russian.  Choose the freshest or try different ones to see which of the subtle taste differences you like.

To Store:  keep kale stored loosely in a plastic bag for up to 3 days

To prepare:  cut stem out of leaves or hold stem and pull leaves– chop into small pieces.

Kale can be chewy so it is best when it is lightly steamed or sautéed or used in smoothies.  If making a salad with kale allow it to sit in the dressing for 20 minutes or so to allow the leaves to soak up the dressing and soften.

Kale is a fabulous addition to smoothies and its taste is actually quite mild.  To help minimize the flavour of kale add some cucumber and lemon into your smoothie.  These vegetables complement each other and you will be pleasantly surprised by the taste.  Honestly!

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started enjoying this super star of vegetables. The type of kale you choose doesn’t matter.

holihealth Kale Dip

1      tbsp            Olive oil

1      clove Garlic sliced

3      cups           Kale sliced

1    cup        Cottage cheese

2    tbsp       Fresh lemon juice (more or less to taste)

Pinch of red pepper flakes


1     Warm oil in a pan over medium heat

2     Add garlic and simmer until it becomes fragrant

3     Add kale and cook until it is wilted and tender – approx 3 to 4 minutes

4     Drain and let cool

5     Transfer to a food processor

6     Add cottage cheese and puree until smooth

7     Season with red pepper flakes and lemon juice

8     Pulse to mix

Kale Smoothie

Blend:  kale, cucumber, lemon juice, frozen mango chunks, half of an avocado, an apple and coconut water (any measure or combination you like, but you may initially want to go lighter on the kale and cucumber until you get used to it) – try a 3 kale leaves and 3 inches of cucumber to start


Side of Kale

Lightly sauté de-stemmed, washed kale in a bit of olive oil until limp – add a little lemon or balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper

Patti Smyth and Nancy Buchanan are partners at holihealth, Nutritional and Lifestyle Trainers.  We offer workshops and one-on-one consultations.  Our motto is small steps for big change and whole health.  We know it is difficult and confusing when you try to eat healthy so let us help you with small steps.

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Take a Holiday from Criticism

On July 4th, 2012, posted in: Latest SWAN Blog by

Take a holiday from criticism

 By Shirley Vollett

 When you pack for your summer vacation, consider carefully what you take with you in your “psychic” suitcase.

There’s one item I plan to leave at home this year – and that is my tendency to be critical.  You know the tendency I’m talking about:  That very human tendency to negatively judge and evaluate -- myself, other people or my circumstances.


Psychologist and author, Robert Firestone refers to this negative inner conversation as the “critical inner voice”.  Says Firestone, “The critical inner voice is often experienced as a running commentary in our mind that interprets events and interactions in ways that cause us pain and distress.  It is an internal dialogue, a harsh and judgmental way of talking to ourselves.”

This is the voice you’re hearing when:

  • You look in the mirror and think:  “You’re too fat”, “You look old”, “Your nose is too big” or _______ (fill in the blank).
  • You think about marketing your business and hear:  “You’re no good at networking – you never know what to say.” or “Who do you think you are?  Why would anyone hire YOU?”
  • You compare your business to someone else’s and berate yourself: “Why can’t you be more successful like so-and-so?  What’s the matter with you?”

Our inner critical voice can be quite brutal and unforgiving.  Sometimes we are aware of its taunts and barbs – and we can exercise some choice about how to deal with it.  At other times, these negative self-judgements form a barely perceptible background drone, resulting in feelings of despondency and a drop in energy and inspiration.  And we wonder what’s wrong.

Unfortunately for our loved ones, we also project our critical inner voice onto others.  Ever felt critical of your partner, your children, your siblings?

“He dresses like a slob.”  “She is so self-centred.”  She talks too much.”  “He’s ridiculously shy.”  Paradoxically, we often reserve our harshest criticisms for those who are closest to us and whom we love the most.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to take a vacation-break from your tendency to criticize?  Here are 3 ways:

  1. Notice when you’re becoming critical of yourself and detach. Recognize when your inner critic has taken the floor.  Don’t resist or argue with the critical voice.  Just thank it for sharing and immediately choose to let those critical thoughts go.  (Like meditation, the goal is to notice your thoughts as they arise and then let them drift on by, like clouds, without attaching to them.)

This may be harder than you think.  However even a small improvement in your ability to detach from those negative thoughts can result in a significant improvement in your mood.

  1. Notice when you’re feeling critical of your partner/family member and make a request.

When critical thoughts of others arise, ask yourself if there is something you would like them to do or change.  If so, take your courage in hand and make a request.  Do it with the awareness that    they have the right to decline or accept your request.   That being said, you just might get what you want!

If you are critical regarding something they can’t easily change (like their nose or their size), then decide to let them off the hook for the duration of this vacation.  Give them (and yourself) a total break from your negative judgements.  Those critical thoughts will still be available when the vacation is over – if you really miss them.  You might be amazed at how your joy increases when you let go of your negativity about things that can’t be changed.

  1. Practice gratitude daily.

Each day reflect on three things that you give thanks.  No matter what is going on, what do you feel good about from your day? Capture your gratitude for big and small moments of pleasure by writing them down in a journal.  Giving thanks can magically dissolve negativity.  Cultivate appreciation for what is present and give your   critical mind something else to focus on.

This summer, make a change in your inner landscape, as well as your outer one.  Join me in taking a holiday from those critical, negative assessments of ourselves -- and others.  Let’s give ourselves a break and let our inner sun shine!

Shirley Vollett is a life-long student of relationships and what makes them tick!  As a Life and Relationship Coach, she provides professionals, executives and business owners with compassionate coaching for life, love and work.  Her special passion is empowering single/divorced women and men to develop the relationship skills they need, to avoid past mistakes and create a powerful game plan for attracting the “right” partner.  You can sign up for my newsletter or follow my blog at






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