Don’t feed the anxiety dragon

The Night my 7-year old son was missing from his bed

This is without question one of my worst nightmares. It’s 10:30 PM, I am about to go to bed, I drop off some things in my room, on the bed and start to make my rounds to give my kids a final kiss and tuck in. I knew they don’t know I do it at that time of the night and it’s really for me, but I like it and It is part of my routine. When I get to my oldest son’s room he is not in his bed. I’m a little puzzled at first because although he will often crawl into our bed I was just in our room and he wasn’t there.

So I assume that he is in his sisters bed, odd because he has never done that but perhaps he couldn’t sleep. He’s not there.

I check his room again. He’s not there.

I check the baby’s room again (as if I could have missed him sleeping on the floor in a such a tiny room). He’s not there.

I check our bed again, maybe he is snuggled in the pillows. He’s not there.

I check the floor beside our bed. He’s not there.

I run downstairs to the front room (we had been in the TV room so I know he is not there), he’s not there.

I start to run, beginning to panic to the basement spare room, hoping he is there. HE IS NOT THERE.

Not on the couch in the basement. He is not there.

My mind starts to race, panic sets in. The front door wasn’t locked. Did he in his 7-year old curiosity sneak out? Where is he!!!??? I frantically yell to my husband quickly explaining that he is not in any beds or couches. In a second it sinks into my husband and he starts frantically rechecking all the places I have already checked. My heart is racing. Where is my baby?

Then I check behind the couch. Not sure why. He’s there!!! With a pillow and a blanket. I literally toss the couch aside and yell- “he’s here, he’s here, he’s behind the couch”. Not sure what went through his mind to go to sleep behind the couch. Probably just being his silly cute little self. In all the commotion he wakes and cutely smiles at me and snuggles into my arms to be carried up to bed. He’s in no position to know what just went on or answer what he’s doing behind the couch. My heart races for the next 10 minutes while I try to calm it down.

Then here was the lesson for me. Once all was settled and he was back to sleep and tucked into bed and my husband and I were able to nervously laugh about the whole thing my husband said something very thought provoking for me (he didn’t mean it to be thought provoking but I learned something valuable). He said “you should post that on Facebook!!” For a nanosecond I thought about it. I mean I post other stories on Facebook and surely I would get the mama love that I needed in that moment. But I didn’t post it. I knew that I needed some time away from it until I could share the story. I knew that if I posted it on Facebook I would get the mama love I needed but I would also fuel the anxiety that had been created by the whole situation. I would have risen the fears and anxieties and “what if’s” and “thank God” and “can you imagine”. And although I would have appreciated the love and support – I would not have likely slept that night because I would also have fed the anxiety, panic and fear. I was not willing to do that. It would have been an easy (and sensational) story to share and in other times I might have thought nothing to share it. But at this moment I was able to be mindful of the other negative effect it would have on me and that was not worth it for me. I knew that in order to share this story it needed to be with some space from the physical and emotional reaction of the moment so that I was not creating anxiety but sharing what turned out to be a funny little story. So many times we all walk around mindless of some of the decisions that we make and how they affect us on an emotional level. This for me was a good awakening to not feed the anxiety dragon.

A Crisp new start- ahhhhhhhh Fall

Fall arrived yesterday morning, much to my son and daughters delight as they excitedly watched out the window for the leaves to literally “fall” so they could be buried in a pile of them.  September is now in full swing and for many of us that means we are “back-to-real-life”.  Summer has a way of not feeling like “real-life”.  Often business is slower or made laid back (if you are lucky there are causal Fridays or half-day Fridays), if you have kids they are out of school and so the routine is different (no fights over homework and often a more flexible bedtime routine) and in general lighter traffic if you commute.  In the summer we tend to eat later, stay up later, do more or do less and often forget the troubles of real-life. 

As September rolls around I feel like it is a fresh new start.  Even before I had children, and they were going to school themselves which definitely signals a new beginning in my brain, September has always held the promise of big things, of exciting adventures, of change and strangely enough of renewal.  Perhaps it is conditioned in me from all the years of schooling, or perhaps it is the change of pace from summer time, or perhaps it is the start of fall with the crisp mornings and cool nights.  Regardless of why, September seems to be a time to take a step back and figure out what’s working and what’s not in life.  A time to start fresh.  A time to purge the closet, clean the house, start a new routine.  The fall projects list comes out.  The fall cleaning gets scheduled or done.  And quite often a new list of goals is started.  Sometimes it’s a new goal, sometimes it’s an old goal not yet realized.    

For many it’s also a time to take a look at what’s working, and what’s not working in their emotional life.  Perhaps it is an issue with a child that has resurfaced.  Or a problem with a partner that can’t be ignored for “the sake of summer vacation”.  Or a feeling of dissatisfaction with a personal struggle, a job, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, depression or other common personal struggles.  Whatever it is, September see’s my office getting busier with people who are ready to make changes in their lives, who are ready for a new start.  This is an exciting time for me and for my clients too.  Because as the initial anxiety of the first session disappears we both get to witness real change happen in their lives.  And with the promise of a new start there also comes a renewed energy, increased motivation and a sense of great things to come. 

This fall what goals do you have for yourself?  For your home?  For your relationships?  What would it take to accomplish those goals?  If you knew you could only succeed what would you do on this beautiful crisp full day of Fall 2013?  What have you wanted to do so many times before but haven’t gotten around to or haven’t completed?  What’s stopping you?  What support would you need to do it? 

As the saying goes; Seize the Day.  Ghandi said “the future depends on what you do today”.  What fresh start would you like to take today?  What are you doing today for your future?  I for one am excited about my own opportunities and those of the brave people I work with everyday.  It’s going to be a great Fall 2013.      


The therapist with problems

I’m not perfect, I have problems.  There I said it.  I said it because it’s true.  Some of my clients want to believe that I am perfect, that I have it all figured out and have no issues as a parent, friend or partner.  They want to believe that I practice what we talk about perfectly, I never get anxious, I am devote at my meditations and I can stay zen in any given situation.  Not to mention that I have never suffered from depression or really messed up a relationship.  If you are one of those clients please stop reading this now.  I understand the need to think that I, as your therapist, must be perfect.  I mean how can you take advice from someone who doesn’t have it all figured out.  (Again if you want to maintain that image stop reading now 🙂 ). 


The reality is I am flawed, I have problems, I have fought “dirty” with my husband before, I have lost my patience with my kids and my family, – well don’t even get my started on my family.  You know how everyone has one of “those” family members, while I am sure there are members in my family who might tell you I am that person.  I also procrastinate (like now when I should be working on my website but I am blogging instead).  It’s ok though because I am a work in progress and I am learning as I grow.  So why am I confessing on the internet and on a blog that is connected to my business website that I have problems?  Because we all have problems.  We are all human.  Most days we get it right.  On those other days, well we don’t.  We mess up.  We take a step, or two, backwards (just try not to forget the hundreds of steps you took forward, instead of beating yourself up about the step or two backwards).  Sometimes we find ourselves responding in ways, reacting to things or acting in a manner that we have long since abandoned for a newer, more mature, improved us.  And you know what, that’s ok too. 


Many clients think that they are the only one with problems or who have felt this way.  That is very isolating and makes people feel lost and hopeless.  It can also feel very shameful to be the only one with problems.  Many clients ask me how I know so much about them with only meeting so briefly.  It’s because I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of individuals, couples and families and we often share similar painful, private, shameful struggles. 


Many clients also think that they should be able to go to therapy, resolve the problem and move on with their lives.  Forever changed.  Forever better.  Never slipping up or looking back and certainly never needing therapy again (because that would be shameful).  The reality is that we all slip up, we all regress, we all need support all along the way.  Growth and learning, because in many ways that is what therapy is- growth and learning a new way of being, is not a straight forward journey.  There are many bumps along the path.  There are times when the path is blocked and we have to back track and try a different route.  There are even times when one path is working out great and then the terrain changes and we need to relearn and adjust as we go.  So I am admitting on the internet, in a blog that is connected to my business website that I am not perfect and that I have problems because I think it is important to realize that we are all growing and learning and if you are not then you are likely dead.  I’d rather be learning and imperfect than dead.  Have a perfectly flawed day.            

Helpful links and recommendations

From time to time I am asked for links and recommendations for books, contacts and resources that may be helpful to my clients and friends.  I believe in empowering people and giving them the resources that they ask for.  I believe that if someone is meant to be a client they will be and if someone is meant to work things out on their own then it is my privileage to offer them a starting place.  Here are some of the links and resources that I have found to be helpful.  I will update this from time to time and if there is something in particular that you are looking for please let me know so I can add it for you and others. 

These are meant to provide you with helpful links, books and recommendations for living an optimal life.  Check back often for updates and changes
Websites excellent resource in the Burlington area for your health and wellness.  Owned and operated by Roslyn Gordon, Registered Nutritionist inspirational speaker, motivator, coach, author and overall Goddess Positive Psychology My Blog

Wherever you Go, There you Are.  By Jon Kabat-Zinn

Take the Step,  The Bridge will Be There.  By Grace Cirocco

The Miracle of Mindfulness.  By Thich Nhat Hanh

The Mindful Way Through Depression.  By Mark Williams

Flourish By Martin E.P. Seligman

Anxiety Resources
As requested here is some to learn more about Anxiety and treatment.  If you feel you are suffering from Anxiety please call me to see how we can work together.  Anxiety is a very treatable problem, but left untreated can create considerable pain and suffering.  If you aren’t ready to call me see your family doctor for support and ideas.  I don’t want you to suffer.

The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety By John P Forsyth and Georg H Eifert

Take a look at your thoughts

I am a firm believer that if you want something in your life, or want to change something in your life you have to DO something about it. Very few clients or friends of mine have ever told me that the great new job (love of their life, home, car, relationship . . . ) just showed up at their front door, knocked and asked to come in. If this has happened to you please tell us about it!! 🙂

One simple way to start making changes in your life is to change the way you think about the thing/person/event that you want in your life. If you are telling yourself “I’ll never find a new job (partner, home, car, friendship . . . )” then likely you won’t. Why? Because you will be so focused on what you don’t want that you may just miss what is right in front of you. You will be telling yourself that you don’t have the skills, money, qualities to attract those things into your life and in turn you will be either emphasizing the very things you don’t want to others or ignoring these things when they are right in front of you. For example, if you don’t think you have the skills to get your dream job, then you either won’t look for it or won’t apply for it when you see the job posting. I mean why would you even bother applying for the job if you keep telling yourself you won’t get it anyways? I suggest that instead of focusing on the negative thoughts you have about yourself and the world you focus on the positive. Instead of negative affirmations (which trust me we all have enough of in our minds and external world) focus on positive affirmations.

Insert here the doubters, the naysayers. Insert here- “oh great more new age psycho-babble!” I know how many people feel and think about affirmations. They think it is hooky, flakey and pretty much dismiss it. “I don’t believe in positive affirmations”. Well believe it or not you are using affirmations every day. Affirmations are really a form of self-talk or thought. How many times do you say “I can’t do that”. “Oh what an idiot I am”. “I’m not a good enough friend, partner, parent . . .”. “I’ll never get ABC”. These are all affirmations, albeit negative affirmations. And I would bet that you aren’t getting “ABC”. When I talk about affirmations I don’t mean to put up with an awful life situation by lying to yourself and mindlessly saying things like “I love my job” when really you don’t.** I mean instead of focusing on what you don’t want in your life, decide what you DO want, be specific about what you want and then find a positive affirmation and focus on that.

So instead of saying “I’ll never get my dream job” (negative affirmation) or instead of saying “I love my job” (fake positive affirmation that no one would believe), try “I deserve great things” (positive affirmation). Or “I expect great things”. Or “Wonderful new opportunities that match my skills and needs are presented to me all the time”. When you do this you will be planting seeds of good things to come. You will be focusing on your skills and be on the lookout for great things (instead of assuming that it will never happen). You will be injecting some balance of positive thoughts into your automatic negative thought patterns. You will, in essence, be attracting a different experience to you. If you focus on negative you will get more negative. And by nature we are programmed to focus on the negative, it is in fact a survival skills, just a very over developed survival skill in my opinion. So make it your intention to inject more of what you want in your life into your thoughts. And if you are still a naysayer contact me or engage me in a conversation about it, or even better- give it a try. What do you have to lose?

What positive affirmations do you use? Today I am using “I am open and receptive to all the good and abundance in the universe”!!


January Wilson MSW RSW

**P.S. I don’t think affirmations are the solution to serious problems, I think they are a healthy life skill to use in a balanced “diet” of taking good care of your mental health. If you are really struggling with negative thought patterns, depression, anxiety, relationship issues or life in general feel free to contact me to make an appointment to address these issues. You don’t have to struggle.

J.W. Counselling Services
Therapy for Lasting Change
(905) 581-7450
(647) 287-4096

Happy Mother’s Day- what makes a Mother

Happy Mothers Day to my mom, my mother-in-law, my step-mom and all women. 

I am very honoured to be a mom, it is the greatest role in my life and I hold the job very dear to my heart.  Being told I am a good mom is one of the greatest compliments someone can give me.  I am also very lucky to have three fabulous moms in my life, my mom, my step-mom and my mother in law.  They all enrich my life in countless ways.  I hope today and every day I honour you by being a good mom to your grand-children. 

Today I also want to honour all women because I think there is a “mom” in us all, whether you have children or not.  I also think that we need mothering from lots of different women in our lives.  Sometimes for whatever reason our mom can’t “mother” us, be it distance, death, life circumstances or relationship difficulties, and we need many women in our lives to help share the task.  We need our friends, our Aunts and even ourselved to take care of and “mother” ourselves.   To me a mom is someone that loves unconditionally, leads by example and puts others before herself biological or not.  I think there are many women in our lives that fufill the role of mom from time to time or when we need it.  Those “mom’s” met a need in us, take care of us and give us essential “mothering” that help us to feel loved, help us to grow and help us be better mom’s to our “children”- biological or otherwise. 

So in addition to my mom, my step-mom and my mother-in-law and in honour of mother’s day I would like to remember all the “mom’s” of my life and let them know that they are loved and special and valued to me.  And that their “mothering” and love has helped me to become the woman, and mother, that I am.  To list a few: thank you to my friend-“mom” that brings me chicken noodle soup when I am sick; my friend-“mom” who spent the day with me at the baby-show when I was pregnant with my first because my mom was unable to go; thank-you to my Aunt-“mom” who coached me through labour with my second and third child; thank-you to my teacher-“mom” who believed in me and helped me to believe in myself; thank-you to my sister-“mom” who inspired me and has shown me about strength; thank-you to my cousin-“mom” who has always given me unconditional, endless love and support. 

Thank you to my mom, my step-mom (who has always just been a mom to me), my mother-in-law (who has been a great mother-in-law and raised me a great husband) and to all my women who “mother” me- thank-you for your love and when I needed it putting me first. 

I hope to be a good mom to my children and when needed to my neices, nephews, friends, cousins and any other woman in my life. 

Who are the “moms” in your life that you treasure? 

Happy Mother’s Day to us all




Hello everyone,

this past week I took the plunge and J.W. Counselling Services joined the world of Facebook.  This was a long thought out decision for me.  I want to be able to reach and help as many people as possible, but I am always keenly aware of issues of confidentiality and privacy.  I had in fact only been testing out a page to determine if it would be a good fit for the clients I serve when people already starting finding and liking the page.  I decided that this must be a sign that it’s valuable and needed out there.  And so the page stays.  I hope that you will find it useful too.  Please feel free to share this blog and the page with others who may benefit. 


Have a great day

January Wilson