Lessons of compassion

I recently went to a psychology workshop about self care and self/compassion. During the workshop I realised that it was easy to consider showing compassion to my clients and myself, but was I as good at showing compassion to my son when he was defiant and I was in a hurry. I was inspired and wrote this story about my son the 9 year old teacher of wisdom.

cooper with flowers


A tale about learning compassion

Once upon a fairy forest

It was a pleasant day in the forest. The sun was just nice and warm and the breeze was just breezy, gentle and loving. You could smell the jasmine blooms opening and hear the peaches blushing. It was just right.

“Arhhhh”, said the normally feisty bullfrog with a big sigh, sinking deep into his bullfrog legs. Not even the dragonflies bothered him. They often dared each other to see how close they could get before he would give them a friendly, fake lick. They were lucky there was a time, when BelGrin was a very different bullfrog.

When BelGrin was just a teenager, he had so much energy and would get into a lot of mischief. He would hide among the rocks near Cooper’s Lane waiting and when the little boy who lived there would come out to play, the bullfrog would croak loudly … as loud as he could. “Croak … Croak …. Croak”, in order to frighten the boy. Oh the bullfrog thought it was so much fun. It was one of his favourite games to play to see the little boy jump so high and then run home. You see BelGrin had never known what it was like to be afraid.

Of course, had Cooper been able to see it was just a frog, a different type of frog with a totally different sound, he would have understood and felt safe. Everything changed though, the day Rascal came to visit Cooper. Rascal was aptly named, as he was truly a rascal. Rascal was a beagle (that’s a type of dog) and one of his amazing gifts was his ability to smell and hunt that smell down.

Cooper was out playing fetch with Rascal and BelGrin was lying in wait. Then at the most appropriate time, he let out a ripper of a “CROAK … CROAK … CROAK”. Cooper jumped and BelGrin laughed but Rascal spotted him and he went for BelGrin. I would have said ‘poor’ BelGrin but he had a lesson to learn. He had chosen the ‘hard’ way to learn this lesson.

The chase was on. Dogs are fast and so the bullfrog had to jump as fast as he could, through the strawberry patch, over pumpkins and then high over those pineapples. Ouch one of those spiky leaves got him on the butt, but he did not stop and neither did the beagle. Rascal was barking with his nose to the ground and caught him with one of his giant paws. Belgrin was trapped!

Rascal was barking and Cooper yelled, “STOP, RASCAL, STOP”. Cooper looked at the bullfrog. “So it’s you, who has been frightening me and you are no bigger than a dogs paw”. Humph. The temptation was great to let Rascal have the frog, but Cooper remembered being frightened and also being brave. Cooper looked into the scared eyes of the bullfrog and said, “Thank you for teaching me how brave I can be. So many times I was scared to come out and play which is one of my most favourite things of the day. I can now know to be curious about what I don’t understand instead of being afraid.” He called Rascal away and they went off happily to play with the pinecones and let the bullfrog be.

With relief and gratitude the bullfrog experienced what is was like to suffer from fear and could now understand how wrong he had been. What seemed like fun to him had caused harm to another and yet he was shown mercy. Cooper had taught him what compassion was. Belgrin promised himself to be aware of his actions and then to consider the impact upon others and also him. He would from here on in, choose to be brave and act with kindness to others and also himself when in need.

That was his lesson that day and he found a deep peace. This doesn’t mean BelGrin was not ever sad, angry or frightened. This peace came from wisdom, the wisdom he had learnt from a little boy called Cooper.

Inspire xx



The glorious coffee bean

We all love coffee, okay well most of us love a good coffee, perhaps tea? Here is another reason to honour the amazing coffee bean. Sorry I can’t remember where I picked up this story.

A father wanted to teach his daughter about coping with stress. So he says, “honey, I want to teach you about stress”. As he looks at the saucepan on the stove with boiling water and the three types of produce sitting on the kitchen bench.

The father says, “some people are like this carrot, they seem all hard and crunchy but when they meet with stress”, as he puts the carrot into the boiling water, “they soften and if left too long they turn to mush”.

Removing the carrot, he then picks up an egg. He says, “some people are like this egg, all fragile but when met with stress”, as he puts the egg into the boiling water, “they toughen up but then eventually they build a hard wall around them”.

Yes you guessed it, the third thing he picks up after removing the egg is a beautiful aromatic handful of coffee beans. He smells them in his hand (well I would, coffee beans smell awesome) and places them into the boiling water. The father says, “some people are like the coffee bean they refuse to let the environment change who they are, instead they influence those around them”, and so the boiling water became their morning cafe latte and a life lesson.

Be like the coffee bean! Know who you are and stay true to who you are.

Work In Balance

I wonder how much do you juggle everyday? Think about the many hats you put on each day – Mother/Father, Partner, Agent/Buyer, Business Owner, Teacher/Student, Employee/Employer. Life is busy and full.

Now add in all of your personal expectations, perfectionistic ideals, and criticisms, perhaps these are some of the hardest demands to juggle or manage … our inner critic. You ‘must’, you ‘should’, it’s not good enough. Or perhaps: do more – be more and then you will be happy. This is the cognitive filter we place over everything that we do or perhaps don’t do. This layer is a tricky layer to acknowledge, it stems from our deeper beliefs and influences our perceptions. This is the subconscious filter through which we view the world. In my practice one of the most common limiting belief is that nasty insidious, “I’m not good enough” and it’s cousin the, “what do other people think of me”.

The aim of this paper is to share some neuroscience about balancing and preventing burnout. Hopefully you will take away with you these three simple principles:

1. Listen to your body
2. Stay in balance
3. Appreciate your life

So stress then, is it a friend or a foe? Here, we need to come back to balance. Our biology is designed to handle some stress and some stress motivates us to perform. However any system will show signs of wear and tear if it is not maintained properly. It needs to be identified and have something done about it before it is beyond repair. Or even better keep it well-maintained – regular oil and grease changes please.

The Stress Performance Curve demonstrates that there is an optimal level of stress or arousal that we need for peak performance. This is ‘eustress’ – Greek for good stress. Perhaps here is where Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) might say ‘flow’ occurs. This is when our skills meet the challenge at hand and we lose self-consciousness. On the curve we can also see that no stress and also too much stress (distress) inhibits performance.

Perhaps to illustrate this, consider that your nervous system is similar to an electrical system in your house. You need to have the lights on when it gets dark but if you turn everything on, you might activate the safety switch and then lose power. This is similar to what happens in your brain. Once your protective system recognises a threat it triggers the flight/flight response and puts you into survival mode. Which is good if you are about to electrocute yourself and not so good if you are about to do a presentation at the revive conference.

Let’s look at some definitions:
Wellbeing is: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (World Health Organisation).
Stress is: “any circumstance that threaten or are perceived to threaten one’s well-being and thereby tax one’s coping abilities” (Weiten, Lloyd, Dunn & Hammer, 2009).
Burnout “involves physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and a lowered sense of self-efficacy that is attributable to work-related stress” (Weiten, Lloyd, Dunn & Hammer, 2009).

History of Stress
Hans Selye (1907 – 1982), a Hungarian Endocrinologist was inspired by an experiment he was conducting on mice. He was injecting different hormones into mice, but all the mice were exhibiting the same response, at first he surmised that he had discovered a new hormone, but in fact he was observing the impact of stress on mice. The General Adaptation Syndrome was born, the stages he proposed being the initial ‘alarm stage’ secondly the ‘resistance stage’ and lastly if we don’t listen to our bodies telling us something is wrong – the ‘exhaustion stage’. Curiously he found that whether one received bad news or good news the body responded in the same way. He called negative stress ‘distress’ and positive stress ‘eustress’.

One of his mates, Walter Cannon (1871 -1945) an American physiologist, then came up with the concept of ‘homeostasis’. This is the concept that the body will naturally create balance. In 1932 he wrote a book called the ‘Wisdom of the Body’. We are still learning more and more about the wonders of how our body regulates different states to bring about homeostasis. You would have heard of the term ‘fight-flight’ this was another one of his discoveries and he coined the term in 1915. With a century of research we are still struggling to figure out, how best to do the juggle of life.
So what I am saying is … well we are normal.

Automatic Nervous System
Let’s go into more detail about the fight/flight – the protective response. The Automatic Nervous System (ANS) regulates the important survival functions of your body (breathing, digesting, heart beating, blood flow). The ANS processes are in charge so you can concentrate on bigger things: like ordering Tai and perusing the new listings on Netflix. We can override the system, with lots of conscious effort but when we sleep they go back to the default. Sometimes this is actually why people feint, because the body want to be back in charge, you drop to the floor, making it easier for the heart to pump the blood back up to your brain and your breathing goes back to a steady even pace, stabilising your blood pressure. This is a great example of homeostasis – listen to your body!

Sympathetic Nervous System
The sympathetic nervous system is also fondly known as the fight-flight response. It is normal and natural and every living thing with a brain has this survival response in their system.

When your amygdala senses threat, whether that be a real or an imaginary threat, your body will go into the fight-flight mode. The alarm goes off, your body sends adrenalin and other stress hormones through out your body. Your body creates glucose in your system by breaking down what ever it can (fat, muscle) this is why we can lose lots of weight quickly when we are stressed. Your pupils dilate to improve your peripheral vision so you can see the treat if it comes at you from behind. Your body will also increase your heart rate, breathing rate and tense up your muscles in preparation of dealing with the threat. This body response is very similar to anxiety symptoms; in fact it is what happens in your body when you feel anxious.

What also happens when the fight-flight systems has been activated, it changes the blood flow of the brain. More blood goes to activating the sympathetic system, which is reflexive, and less blood flow goes to the thinking part of the brain (prefrontal cortext) because it is too slow.

This is why, imagine you are walking on the footpath, you hear a screech of tyres near you, you jump back, so quick you don’t even remember making a decision to jump back, it’s all reflexes baby! Survival of the fitness! This is what would have happened if the thinking brain were in charge.

“Oh my that car is going fast, I wonder if the driver is a P plater, although I do like that model of Mazda, and the sun picks up the metallic glinnnnnntttttttt….” CRASH

Of course heading into an exam or a corporate meeting is not the best place to go into the fight-flight because you need the thinking part of the brain. So take a deep breath, calm yourself and your brain will come back on line.

What is important to know about this protective system is that it doesn’t know what is actually real, it will respond even you are just thinking of the threat, or a past threat. So be careful of what you let run around your mind, because your body will always create the chemical state to match. You need to be in charge.

So the sympathetic nervous system may put you into ‘fight’ off the threat, ‘flight’ run away, avoid or even ‘freeze’ (playing dead is actually a survival strategy in the animal kingdom, have a look at a frightened frilly lizard). The blood flow changes, so some parts of the brain switch off, sometimes even to the point you may feel dissociated from your body. In extreme trauma situations this is where some one could potentially develop Multiple Personality Disorders.

Now the fight-flight is the protective mechanism, but what happens when there is no tangible threat to fight or flight or freeze from. Your system is still wired up (hyper-aroused) by all that excess adrenalin and glucose in your muscles, which is why your muscles may shake or even cramp up later (you have used up your magnesium). The best thing to do is something active that day to burn up the extra adrenalin in your system. Sleeping may be tricky too if the stress hormones are running around your system keeping you alert. This is why exercise is so good for stress management; yes there is the science for you.

Parasympathetic Nervous System
So what goes up will come down, that’s the nature of homeostasis. You body can’t sustain the fight-flight mode; it uses too much energy and nutrition, so it’s time to repair. This is what the parasympathetic nervous system does and it is called the rest-digest response. It is your body’s healing response. When we sleep our body repairs itself.

I always have images of Lego men running around rebuilding and repairing, using amino acids (protein) as the Lego. Pretty much every structure in your body is made using amino acids. Your neurons, your neurotransmitters, your hormones, your skin and nails, muscle fibres etc. all need protein and other essential nutrients to be strong and efficient. This is why I talk with my clients about the importance of healthy eating, eat a little protein in every meal even if it’s a few nuts in your salad. I also tell clients on antidepressants don’t just rely on the medicine; you still need to feed your body protein in order to make the serotonin and dopamine (happy neurotransmitters).

The rest-digest response will slow you down (hypo-arousal), your muscles will relax, your heart beat and breathing slows down, your pupils constrict, digestion slows right down and you are set to ‘defrag’ the system. Your body wants you to rest, to sleep to take it easy so your body can heal.

It’s like the time you had a really bad flu, all you wanted to do was go into the cave where it’s nice and dark and quite (no more stimulation), your appetite is gone and all you want to do is just sleep. This is how I know when my little boy is actually ‘really’ sick he’s not hungry and happy to go to bed. When he’s starting to get better, after dinner he wants the apple, the sandwich and yes the glass of milk. He has enough energy to push the bedtime limits.

Some of the parasympathetic symptoms may sound like depression symptoms and certainly we can get ‘stuck’ in this system because of negative thinking, or our body is ‘burnt out’. The yacht is pulled out of the water so serious repairs can be done. Some people with big swings of the sympathetic and parasympathetic may talk about feeling anxious and then crashing into depression. This is the body over swinging to try to find a balance. Where we want to be most of the time is in homeostasis right in the middle, where our brain is totally functioning and we can think about what is happening.

Within this system there is an important nerve called the Vagus Nerve, which has created some excitement in the neuroscience world. Understanding how this nerve works, explains why deep breathing, having a good chat, even a laugh is so calming to our nervous system (Porges, 2007).

Let’s look at this system from another perspective.

On the top we have the protective response and on the bottom the healing response and in the middle is generally we sit for most of the time. This is how the body creates balance – homeostasis. To maintain our ‘equapoise’ (Sarah Bell, 2017) we need to listen to our body and know the signs so we can better adjust and bring back the balance.
Otherwise we will look this …

A cognitive model was proposed by Lazarus and Folkman (1984), in order to explain how important our perceptions are in understanding stress. Lazarus proposed that we experience stress when we perceive the demands are greater than our resources. First we make a ‘ Primary Appraisal’ of the stress. Is the stress good, harmful, threatening or just irrelevant? Is being stressed worth it? What might I have to lose? If our appraisal here is that the stress is relevant and potentially threatening, we may then move into more analysis of our situation.

The ‘Secondary Appraisal’ occurs as we consider our resources to meet the demands. Can I do what is being asked of me? Is there too much on my plate? What do I need in order to meet the challenge? If it is our perception that we can’t meet the demands, we will then start to experience stress. According to Selye, if we then continue to feel this amount of stress without doing anything about it, we will reach ‘exhaustion’ and then the body will basically take over and send you to bed. Body wisdom is listening to the messages our body sends us. You can only override the stress signals for a certain amount of time, before something serious happens in your body. Let’s be wise and not test our bodies to the limit.

Prolonged effects of the body
Here is what can happen if you don’t listen to your body and do your best to bring back the balance as soon as you notice.

• Impaired task performance and disruption in cognitive Functioning
• Burnout
• Psychological problems (Depression, Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Alcohol/Drug Abuse). May trigger genetic Mental Health Disorders (Schizophrenia, Bi Polar).
• Health problems (Headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, ulcers, digestion issues, skin disorder, sexual difficulties, chronic low back pain, weight gain, compromised immune system)

By being wise and optimistic here are positive responses to stress.
• Fill a need for challenge
• Personal growth
• Emotional resilience
• Healthy levels can increase immune functioning
• Post Traumatic Growth (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2013)
o Personal strength, relating to others, new possibilities, appreciation, meaning

So in conclusion, it is about bringing balance for yourself and also being a good role model in the workplace and for your family. Be the change you want to see in your life – it starts with you.

So we have our scientific solution to preventing burnout – balancing our demands and resources. We also have the answers in our body. By listening to our body signals we can bring back the balance. The problem is that we have become too good at overriding our body cues – we have lost connectivity and we are not living authentically

1. Learn to listen to your body. This is different from your thoughts and emotions. Our thoughts have been programmed from our experiences and may not be a true source of where your stress levels are. If you are honest with yourself your body will tell you how to keep the balance. I can see worried looks and thoughts, ‘but I have things to get done’ and yes of course we all do… Swinging the other way is just as much out of balance.

Listen to your stress body cue.
The secret is to keep homeostasis which starts with knowing when you are feeling stressed and then acting on it straight away.

2. Stay in balance.
The power you have is right now.

• Breathe – Deep breathing activates the calming response of the brain through the Vagus Nerve, it also maintains healthy a PH level of your blood.
• Relaxation skills – Progressive relaxation, Cued relaxation
• Mindfulness – Focussed attention on the present by using your senses with out judgement.
• Get enough sleep – Very important for your healing system and also memory system. Do not rely on alcohol or sleeping tablets as this compromises the functioning of your hypocampus in memory formation. The Cycardium rhythm (sleep-wake cyles) is one of the first systems to go out whack in stressful times because of excessive release of stress hormones, particularly adrenalin.
• Nourish your body – Protein in particular as it repairs your nervous system, Essential Fatty Acids as they coat your nerves and Magnesium as you burn though a lot trying to relax your muscles.
• Exercise regularly – releases toxins from stress hormones, helps the blood to circulate through your system- bringing nourishment to your muscles and brain. It also helps maintain healthy PH blood levels by flushing out toxins.
• Share positive moments – This is the best way to boost your dopamine and serotonin.

Organisational Balance
Some strategies to promote a Psychosocial Safety Climate:
• Worksite physical activity programs
• Coaching and mentoring programs
• Mental health first aid and education
• Resilience training
• Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based return-to-work programs
• Well-being checks or health screenings
• Encouraging employee involvement
(PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2014, p. 4)

3. Appreciate life
Notice what you normally take for granted and ‘savor the moment’. It is so good for your brain and your relationships. It also helps to release beautiful brain chemicals. You are good enough, you are beautiful, you are worthy and you deserve this.

Finally, “when we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves – Viktor Frankl.

Becher, H., & Dollard, M., (2016). Psychosocial Safety Climate and Better Productivity in Australian
Workplaces: Costs, Productivity, Presenteeism, Absenteeism. SA: University of South
Kozlowska, K. (2013). Stress, distress and body talk: Co constructing formulations with patients
who present with somatic symptoms. Harv Rev Psychiatry 21(6) 314–333.
Porges, S. (2007) Poly Vagal Perspective. Biology Psychological. Feb: 74 (2): 116-143. Retrieved
from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868418/
PricewaterhouseCoopers. (2014). Creating a mentally health workplace: Return on investment
analysis. National Mental Health Commission.
Seligman, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American
Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14. Retrieved from
Weiten, W., Lloyd, M.A., Dunn, D.S., & Hammer, E.Y. (2009). Psychology Applied to Modern
Life: Adjustment in the 21st Century. CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Toad Fish

One of my clients who loves fishing told me all about ‘toad fish’. They are pesky little fish who nibble and nibble at your bait until it’s all GONE. What a great analogy for those pesky niggly negative thoughts that nibble and nibble at our confidence. ‘You can’t do it, things don’t work out for you, you aren’t good enough’. Well enough is enough. Shake off those ‘toad fish’ and catch something of substance.You are unique and brilliant in your own way.

An interesting thing to know is that when you think negative thoughts it does change your brain chemistry – you are depleting your stores of dopamine and serotonin (the happy neurotransmitters). So let’s consider while we may not have control over pesky toad fish we can make choices over how we think about life and about ourselves.

Be brave – see that the glass is always half full!

Two voices in my head

Thoughts are tricky little things, wicked fast and sometimes impossible to stop. But you wouldn’t just let anyone who knocks on your door into your home, you would choose and so it is important we do this for our mind, even when it feels impossible.

Two voices

A man went to a doctor with a very big problem. I have two voices inside my head. One tells me all about my faults and things that others have done wrong by me. The other tells me about hope and love, my strengths and the goodness in the world, the kind things other’s have done for me.

What shall I do doctor they constantly fight, it’s driving me nuts.

The doctor replied which ever one you feed becomes the stronger. Our attention and energy feeds the voices in our mind.

The man smiled he realised now he could choose.

It’s true there is pain in the world and people will let you down, and it is also true everyone has goodness, miracles happen every day and even the simplest things can bring joy. What will you give your attention to?


Authenticity… do you feel comfortable in your own skin?

I wonder if that happens when we wear our true selves out for all to see, so we stretch in the right places, just like comfy jeans do.

What does authenticity mean to you? How would you be living your life or what would you do differently, so you authentic? Do your actions match your values.

Some of my clients grew up in situations where their true self wasn’t embraced and endorced. So they learned to fit, they learnt which false self to ‘put on’ in the morning. Sadly at a cost. As a mother I sometimes forget as I try to mold my little one and shape his behaviour, influence his beliefs into the man I would like him to be. Someone who is respectful, loving and courageous. This seems well meaning but at times I need to let go so he can explore and use his sense of humour even when I think it’s time for homework. The balancing act of boundaries.

Children are born with their self esteem in tact and slowly experiences may reinforce and encourage their lovely selves or damage their sense of worth.

Truly we are all worthy and wonderful. That’s how we are born, as adults it’s up to us to show love and be kind to ourself. Stop saying yes when we really want to say no. Cherish our differences and enjoy our similarities. Be brave to invest in our personal growth. Life is very short, so start today. Promise yourself you will only think kind lovely thoughts to yourself and those around you.



Body Mindfulness Exercise

Take just one minute to notice

Sitting comfortably with your feet flat on the floor


Notice your body

Notice your breath and the changes your body makes when you breathe

Breathe in and notice

Breathe out and notice

Breathe in and notice

Breathe out and notice


Notice your posture, where your weight rests

Feel the balance between the right side and the left side

Relax and notice until you feel the balance

Notice the muscles in your shoulder blades

Relax and notice til you feel the balance


Notice your hands and let them relax until they feel balanced

Notice the pressure of your feet on the floor

Feel the balance between the right side and the left side

Notice each toe, even if you need to wiggle them

Feel the balance between the right side and the left side

Relax and notice until you feel the balance


One last deep breathe in and out

The New Day

Once upon a Fairy Forest

It was the last of the last day of the year.

It was a strange day. Some were celebrating … some were yearning … others were waiting for the New Year to present.

A family of peacocks were in the brush of pretty pink and purple ‘today yesterday and tomorrow’ bushes, awaiting the arrival of their new peachicks.

The Forest Fairies were dancing with so much freedom and bliss with the fresh new breeze twirling through the gum trees.

Two red belly black snakes were high up in the treetops out of everyone’s way willing for the New Year moon to arise.

The Sun, ever so graceful and faithful rising day after day after day. Smiling over all with light, watching all with delight. The Moon on it’s rise as the earth rotates, ever so slowly to bring gravity and light to the night.

There was a wearisome owl. “Oh, bother … another year gone and a new one to begin. Where to start? Where to start … the wisdom to impart?

The teeny tiny mice, so sweet and young, excited about their first year ending. They were scurrying hither and thither to find the very … very best spot! “Is it here? Is it there? Where will the very first day start? Can I say hello to the first day, will it be different, will it stray, or will it be just like another day?”

Milton the clever fairy wandered past and heard the mice in conversation.

“Oh, the first day is the BEST just like all the days that are to follow. It doesn’t matter where you stand or what you see, it will happen all the same. So set your intention clear what ever you hope – so dream big, wide and as tall as the sky, it is possible! Believe with your whole heart in the magic of the very first day and for all the days that follow this year.”

Smiling Crocodiles and safety behaviours

My book Smiling Crocodiles is a tale about a little forest fairy, Rosalee, who finds herself face to face with two smiling crocodiles. She listens to her intuition to stay safe and protect her forest friends.

Teaching protective behaviours to children is tricky, mainly because we don’t want to frighten them of the dangers, nor give negative messages about the world. I believe protective behaviours starts with having a healthy relationship with your child, even behaviour modification starts with building/giving trust and demonstrating healthy attention.

Attachment is the psychological term for the relationship between a child and parent (significant caregiver). It is the fundamental model of how children learn to love themselves and others around them. It becomes an internal model of how we do relationships… what’s normal, what’s healthy and what hurts. Being protective starts with where those boundaries exist, what’s okay, what’s not okay and being confident to feel vulnerable and to be assertive.

The second fundamental principle is ‘intuition’. I’ve defined it as: a deep feeling that something is true. That might be you feel peace that you are where you are meant to be, it might be a deep love feeling that the person you are with is someone special. Intuition can also tell us when something is wrong. Our rational thoughts may tell us everything is alright, but our intuition is the sum of all our subconscious experiences sensing that something deserves our attention, even though you can’t see it. It is an inner protective mechanism and it is a skill to be able to notice and listen to it. It is different from anxiety. Anxiety comes more our heads telling us negative messages.

Here is a story of where I didn’t listen to Cooper’s intuition when he was 4 years old. I was in a hurry on our way to kindy, so I’ve thrown his shoes in the bag and off we went. We parked and hoping out of the car, Cooper insisted to put his shoes on. I admit I was quite frustrated already by then, I convinced him it’s okay, he’s only going to take them off when we get in anyway. So what happens… I open the front Kindy door and it slices through top of his big toe. I remember thinking, if only I had of respected his wishes, his little toes would be all safe. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but it was certainly a lesson in not rushing.

So the core of protective behaviours:

  1. Your body belongs to you
  2. Your private parts are special
  3. No one can touch your private parts without good reason
  4. Listen to your intuition (internal warning alarm)
  5. Say no (we don’t keep secrets in families)
  6. Go somewhere safe
  7. Tell someone you trust
  8. Make a list of who you can tell
  9. Problem solve difficult situations
  10. Practice assertive skills

An ordinary day

I was hiking through Cinque Terre and found myself barefoot on one of the cute little beaches. I wrote this story, about a little golden fish who could have been visiting there, but was too scared to say hi because of all the sweaty feet.

Once upon a fairy forest.

It seemed like an ordinary day but there was wonder in the air, as if anything mysterious was possible.

And so it happened a golden fish found her way into the fairy forest. She was very shy and full of magic, she could make wishes happen.

A little blue tongue lizard at that very moment noticed the splash of gold in the water. “I wonder what it could be”. She whispered, “Hello little golden light, sparkling just so in the ripples. I wish I could swim and follow you to learn your mysteries”.

Then amazingly, she found herself with gills among the lilly pads. It was scary and she didn’t like it, not one little bit. “Oh help, I wish I could fly up high above the water into the sky”.

Then amazingly, she grew wings and lifted in the breeze with wobbles and bobbles. “Oh help, I wish…”

The little golden fish appeared. “Now listen here … I will grant you only one more wish, so think carefully and choose wisely”. Mmmm thought the little blue tongue lizard. “I wish I was a little blue tongued lizard, safe on the bank beside the lake wondering about the golden mysterious light.”


Thank you little magic wish fish, for teaching me how wonderful it is to be just me. I will remember everyday to be grateful for my little blue tongue and my little dry bank next to the lovely lake.