Sensory OverloadED

Sensory OverloadED

Here are the titles of three books I’ve recently read:

Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection
Both by local author, Michael Harris.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Perhaps you see a theme?

The other day, after my nine-hour day at a busy retail store, I exclaimed: “my ears hurt”. My colleague laughed but she knew the context. The day was filled with people who just needed to talk and/or interrupt me. They were not necessarily there to listen to answers from me to their questions, but just talk. The day was a diatribe of words accosting my auditory sensibilities……and as a consequence, my ability to think and concentrate.

As an introvert and person who has been trained in communication, leadership, the psychology of sales and counselling with an understanding of Emotional Intelligence, two (of many) things I’ve learned surrounding effective communication are:

1) Ask leading and meaningful and specific open-ended questions and look another in the eye
2) Listen actively to the answers and look another in the eye

(there’s much more to having effective communication skills than these two points, but these will suffice for this article)

I notice many people cannot do this. There seems to be a lack of active engagement between two people who are supposed to be having a communication experience. I would say that most of this has to do with distraction. Either someone is just ‘looking around the store and talking out loud to anyone who will listen’, or glancing at their iPhone, or just caught up in their own head and life. 

This just doesn’t show up in my work life, I see it in my volunteering and personal life as well.

I don’t know when my sensitivity of constant sound – and not just people talking incessantly, but all kinds of non-nature sounds – became such a challenge. I think it just kind of morphed over time.

Although I do remember stomping out of a nightclub in my early 20’s to get away from all the ‘noise’. Though I kept going back for some stupid reason. Wanted to have fun, I guess. HA!

In my late 20’s I really started to notice how certain environments could really affect me. Sound, movement and smells. Too much or too noxious and I’m ready to puke.

I feel I’ve resurrected my own sense of peace. As a young person I was pretty much on my own to entertain myself. I was okay with this, but then I guess I got caught up in having to be out there and be with the ‘crowd’.

Didn’t really work for me, in several ways. Learned the hard way as many of us do.

I am totally at peace just hanging out in my apartment and watching the masses of people down at Kits beach and English Bay tonight. I have my music, writing, library books, new ukulele and a kitty for the weekend. I have the mountain and water and sunset view. I have peace in my wee apartment. Peace and quiet. My music. My smells. My movement (and of course the pitter patter of tiny kitty feet).

Some may accuse me of being anti-social or reclusive. Not so. I am IN the world almost EVERY day of my life with my paid and volunteer work. Both very intense! This is good for me, but it can be challenging. The introvert in me HAS to recharge my batteries on the day(s) I am not engaged in doing work and being out there on the busy city streets. 

Another couple of realizations to add to all this. Today I decided to walk six blocks out of my way so I could get to my destination without going through the throngs of people on the busier corridors.

I heard birds, and smelled flowers and saw bumblebees. There was no having to navigate the sidewalk with pedestrians, strollers, joggers, people zigging and zagging for whatever reason. (and of course the smell of cigarettes, vaping and pot….not pleasant for me AT ALL!)

And, while riding the elevator up and down to the laundry room this evening, I talked with two young people about their experience at being at Kits beach, both said, in an exasperated way: “there were a lot of people down there!”

So, I guess I’m not the only person who feels Sensory Overloaded. 🙃

~Christine, June into July 2019


Thank you

For those who read my last post, and you know who you are, thank you for your thoughts and for sharing your stories.


A Humble Human

While I am not resurrecting my website to promote any of my work – because I no longer offer coaching or workshops any more, but am still working (volunteering) in Grief Support and Education  – I AM resurrecting my articles, as I feel compelled to write again. Hopefully others are compelled to read. 🙂

The new midlife is where you realize that even your failures make you more beautiful and are turned spiritually into success if you became a better person because of them. You became a more humble person. You became a more merciful and compassionate person. ~ Marianne Williamson

The last few years I have experienced many transitions of lifestyle, work-time and non-work time, living space and relationships with others. It’s been a process of learning and (hopefully) mental, emotional and spiritual growth. I’ve literally and figuratively got a new view on life.

The motto throughout my life from about age 15 – 55 has been one of “I have to make things happen in my life”.  “Only I have the power to do what it takes to get what I want”. I identified this ‘power’ as a formula of identifying what I wanted/needed (the goal); designing a plan to getting there; and working hard to reach that desired goal. I did not believe in good luck, just timing and opportunities. I did not believe that anyone else was responsible for taking care of me or making things happen for me. I believed in independence of mind, body, and action.

This motto has been my strength, but it also has been my weakness. It has contributed to over-functioning, resentment, burnout and a certain sense of self-righteousness.

While I feel a sense of healthy pride in knowing I have and can attend to taking care of myself, things, and others when necessary, I am now reflecting as I move towards 60 years of age, that I may have pushed too hard; didn’t learn to ask for help or receive graciously; didn’t embrace the good things and times as much as I probably should have; and allowed myself to get knotted up into a ball of frustration.

Another motto I’ve had for myself is: “let go of what is not working for you in your life and you inevitably make room for what will”. I have applied this with work, relationships, living situations and health. I still stand by this motto, but over the last few years, I probably have experienced the most pain of living it.

This could be for several reasons, one being where I am in my life right now, age-wise and lifestyle-wise. It could be because that what I ‘let go of’ was everything I had worked so hard my whole life to achieve and attain. It could be because I felt I reached my pinnacle of success – as I saw it – but did not receive the wealth and accolades and glory that I thought should have come with it. Having said this, I am not extrinsically motivated, but I guess I had hoped it would have been offered more than it was.

So in all of this, I am reminded of what it is all about to be human. I am prompted by how insidious the ego-self can be in attempting to sabotage our sense of self, happiness, well-being and peace of mind. I am humbled – once again – that for however clever we can be in what we think, believe, say and do is going to provide us with some kind of expected results in the world, we still need to connect with our spirit and heart to experience true peace and joy.

Or at least this is what I feel to be true, in my humble opinion. 🙂

Chris Newell, August 5, 2018







One of the Most Powerful Dimensions of Being Human

I think one of the most powerful dimensions that humans possess is their emotional dimension, or feelings.

I’ve studied psychology, marketing, and health. I’ve been involved in retail, music, beauty and art.

In everything I’ve experienced in life and work, there is this necessity of having to know; of learning and becoming an expert in our field with our product or service.

Our mind seems to dictate our life.

Or does it?

Most people do not make decisions based on what they have learned or know. They make them based on emotions – on how ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ is –  makes them FEEL.

I have always worked with feelings.

I worked in a bank. People had feelings about money – their money.

I worked in an esthetic salon. People had feelings about how they looked.

I worked in retail. People had feelings about how the product they were purchasing would make them feel.

I also worked in a bookstore. People wanted to feel smart. It was a personal development bookstore, so people wanted to feel smart and aware of themselves.

I worked in a medical office. People wanted to feel better.

I worked as a professional organizer. People wanted to feel free of administrative tangles and clutter and backlog.

I worked as a life, career and job coach. People wanted to feel like they could manage their life, discover their ideal career and find a dream job.

We are creatures of emotions and feelings.

My point?

As I walk this path of life, I have become more acutely aware that one of the components that makes me most human; that makes me want to love and be loved; to connect with others; to have others connect with me; to paint; to write; and to go to work each day, are my feelings. They are my compass. They provide me with information about my environment and myself. They are unharnessed at times (which can be embarrassing), yet, they must BE. They are who I am. I was born with feelings. We ALL were!

Let them BE! Make no excuses or apologies. Do not try to always override them with reason if you are inclined to do so. Reason and rationality are very important, but not at the expense of our feelings. Knowing things is great. But knowledge is just as mutable as feelings.

So, my thoughts – or feelings to you – are: EMBRACE how you FEEL. In your whole body. We tend to think (HA) we feel in the heart region. And yes, we do, AAAANNNNDDD, we feel in our body. Connect with this wonderful, whole, creature that you are. And trust your feelings!


New Moon, Full Circle: A Journey

The last few weeks I have been reflecting on how a full circle has occurred in my life. By this I mean that I’ve had experiences – through time and space – that are now being experienced again on some levels.

There is recognition of my environment, which is where I’m living geographically. There is recognition of my world of work and connection with others. There is recognition of the thoughts and feelings I am experiencing. There is recognition of the landscapes, smells, sounds and moods of the morning and evening skies.

A new time, an old place. Kitsilano

My journey started in Kitsilano 55+ years ago (which is where I am now, again). I loved the area then because of the trees, gardens, and proximity to English Bay. I had a playground and some friends I appreciated. I had kitties and bugs to play with. I enjoyed the sunny days, and the rainy and snowy days. I could not stay inside. I could not stay still. I loved to dance, draw, sing, invent things, swim, bike, and teach the neighbourhood kids how to add and read (because I had a wee blackboard attached on the wall of my playroom in the basement).

There was so much wonder and beauty and possibility living here, however an extremely disturbing home life was dripping poison into my veins, filling me with anxiety, fear, self-loathing, conflict, insecurity and anger.

This ‘world’ pushed me to another world, one in which I was very much alone and had to learn to survive physically, emotionally and mentally – on my own. I had very close calls to not surviving this period of my life. I was 14 going on 100.

Yet I did. I kept moving, which seemed – and still seems – to be my Modus Operandi. I have moved all over the Lower Mainland. I have held many jobs in many different industries. I have met many people and lived different lifestyles. I have experienced many different ways of being. I have lived, loved and lost almost anyone and everything you could imagine.

Sometimes I have waited too long to make a move, and therefore the damage has been harder to repair. This last big transition of my life is an example of this, but I embrace the time and space that’s ahead of me for the healing journey.

I am back where I started, and I am seeing it again for the first time. I’ve been given yet another chance to reconnect with my Self, Soul and Heart. It feels uncomfortably familiar, yet liberating. I will walk through the darkness of the New Moon, and embrace the cycles of new beginnings that will be revealed on the other side.

Bye for now,








What is Friendship?

I’m learning a lot about friendship these days…..these past few months for sure……
I have learned, and AM learning the value of people who can walk with you on the path of your life, whether it be full of joy or pain; of silliness or despair.

Friends are people who can be accepting and non-judgemental and who give without expectation of receiving.

I call these people the True Blue Friends. The ones who don’t walk away when you’re suffering, and don’t cling when they need something from you. They are there when you’re on top – and don’t make you feel guilty because you have something they don’t. They are the ones who watch you when you fall and lose, and help you to regain your strength, courage and sense of self in order to be in a good place again.

True Blue Friends don’t have to correct you every time you make a mistake or flub a word, but they do call you on your BS.

True Blue Friends are those who say “I am here for you”, and “I love you”, and who do not make excuses for why they cannot get together with you. They just make getting together happen!

True Blue Friends are not afraid to show their vulnerabilities, and they will hug you for no reason other than to hug, because it FEELS REALLY NICE TO BE HUGGED!

True Blue Friends are those who offer sincere and loving thoughts, without expectation of reciprocation.

Thank you True Blue Friends!

And now……for some really profound words by David Whyte…..

I love the form and flow of David Whyte’s poetry, and of the way he is able to provide such depth and insight into words. In this book – Consolations –  he provides meaning to a concept; a feeling; a way of being that can be nebulous and abstract.

I have been reading and re-reading this book for months, and today would like to share his words about Friendship.


is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn.

A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.

In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.

Through the eyes of a real friendship an individual is larger than their everyday actions, and through the eyes of another we receive a greater sense of our own personhood, one we can aspire to, the one in whom they have most faith. Friendship is a moving frontier of understanding not only of the self and the other but also, of a possible and as yet unlived, future.

Friendship is the great hidden transmuter of all relationship: it can transform a troubled marriage, make honourable a professional rivalry, make sense of heartbreak and unrequited love and become the newly discovered ground for a mature parent-child relationship.

The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life: a diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity, of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most average existence.

Through the eyes of a friend we especially learn to remain at least a little interesting to others. When we flatten our personalities and lose our curiosity in the life of the world or of another, friendship loses spirit and animation; boredom is the second great killer of friendship. Through the natural surprises of a relationship held through the passage of years we recognize the greater surprising circles of which we are a part and the faithfulness that leads to a wider sense of revelation independent of HUMAN relationship: to learn to be friends with the earth and the sky, with the horizon and with the seasons, even with the disappearances of winter and in that faithfulness, take the difficult path of becoming a good friend to our own going.

Friendship transcends disappearance: an enduring friendship goes on after death, the exchange only transmuted by absence, the relationship advancing and maturing in a silent internal conversational way even after one half of the bond has passed on.

But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been SEEN by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.

From: Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte



Falling into Fall

To me, this time of year always is bittersweet. I love the colours, smells and the crisp air of autumn; the ultra blue skies, and the crunch of leaves under my feet and chestnuts rolling around on the ground. Nature brings such wonderful gifts to those of us who are blessed with this season, especially here in Vancouver.

However, this time of year also brings me pain. I have always suffered the autumn blues, for whatever reason I don’t know. Ever since I can remember, this veil of melancholy would fold around me and linger until winter snapped me out of it. I was born in December, so perhaps winter is my abrupt entrance into consciousness, and autumn the transformation from one way of being – alive in the womb – to another, being alive in the world.

However, over the last 25 years, I’ve actually had experiences that have intensified this melancholic state in the form of losses such as the death of friends and cats. This has definitely added to that most bitter part about this time of year for me. While I can become so enchanted with the autumn sights, smells and sounds, my spirit and psyche become steeped with the sad memories triggered by this season. It’s so hard to shake, no matter what I do.

And this autumn, I am falling again into Fall. I have experienced and will be experiencing even more losses – again! Things, animals and people that I have loved and a way of living that has been full of beauty and comfort for many years, have dried on the branch, and are floating down to the ground like the autumn leaves. Their season is over.

However, these leaves may be dead, but they still hold so much colour and that provides me with hope and comfort that I too will be able to see and embrace colour in my life again, as I make this journey from one way of being and living –  to another.

Here’s to Autumn…..or Fall.