My top three values are:
- Kindness—both to ourselves and others
I do the work I do because:
Because I think it’s important for people to understand themselves. We might know that we’re sabotaging our lives; we might know that we’re shooting ourselves in the foot but until we understand why we’re doing that, we continue to do it. I do the work I do to help others, and often myself as well, to understand ourselves and live more intentionally.
If I could invite two people to dinner to discuss his/her life journey and career, I’d invite:
There are actually three: the Dalai Lama, Dr. Brian Weiss, and John Lennon. That would be an awesome dinner.
The next big challenge for me around my work is:
There are two. One is to publish my own magazine and the other is to write my third book, which is about the scars that can be left when we’re raised by narcissistic parents.
If my clients hold on to only one piece of advice from me, I hope it’s:
That the way other people act and treat you is not about you. Even though it may feel like it’s about you and it might affect you, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
If I couldn’t do the work I’m doing now, I’d be:
I don’t know how to answer that question. If I wasn’t doing it the way I’m doing it now I would probably do it some other way, like volunteering somewhere or something like that. But I can’t imagine not doing work that contributed to the world somehow.
I can never get enough of:
Chocolate! Dark Belgian chocolate. Oh my god—whoever came up with that is genius. But chocolate makes my clothes shrink.
A person in my field I admire greatly is:
Harville Hendrix who came up with the Imago way of working with couples.
A famous person I admire is:
There are two. One is Oprah who brought spiritual awareness to the world stage so we could start looking at that for ourselves. And the other is Ellen Degeneres who is so, so funny in such a clean way. She doesn’t make jokes at the expense of others or put other people down. She’s so kind. I tape her show and watch it in the evenings sometimes to let go of the heaviness of the day.
My favourite question to ask people is:
One of my favourite questions is, “How’s that been working for you?” which of course is pilfered from Dr. Phil. So many people answer, “Not very well.” So, the next question has to be, “Are you willing to do something different?” As soon as a person is willing to do something different, then change can really happen. We stop being stuck.
If an hour suddenly opened up in my schedule I would:
I would try to do something self-caring so I would either do something like go to the gym or take a nap, which are two diametrically opposed ideas but along the same lines…maybe having some chocolate.
The biggest compliment someone could pay me is:
You’ve helped me to see things differently.
My biggest accomplishment so far is:
I think there are two. One is that I’m now 26 years clean and sober and the other is having written and published Loving an Addict, Loving Yourself.
My top three bucket list items are:
I really don’t have a bucket list. When something opens up in my life that I want to do then I do it, if I can. But I don’t have a lot of big plans that I absolutely have to do before I die. I live my life in a way that when something comes up that I want to do, I do it.
I would love my name to be synonymous with:
Bringing awareness to addicts and their loved ones about recovery being a choice.
My favourite work of fiction is:
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
My favourite nonfiction book is:
The Art of Happiness by Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
What was the deciding factor that propelled you to write your book?
I was getting a lot of calls from the loved ones of the addicts I was working with. I knew that I could not see them all and that I had a message that I wanted to give to them to let them know that there are healthier ways to deal with their addicted loved ones. And that if they could implement some of the tools that I have to offer, their lives could be spared a lot of misery and could help their addicted loved ones as well.
What was your experience of the writing process?
It kind of felt like the book wrote itself a lot. It wasn’t cumbersome. It was easy to organize. What I discovered is that even though I often didn’t have a lot of time to write, to devote to writing, if I was waiting for a client, I could write in five-minute intervals, I could get something down. I didn’t know that about myself so that’s been a very useful thing to learn how to do because we can’t always put an hour a day aside. So, even to be able to write in small chunks of time was really beneficial for me to learn about myself.
Do you have any advice for anyone struggling with the writing process?
Eat chocolate. It helps with everything except it makes your clothes shrink. I think we just have to persevere and I think we need to believe in our message—even if it’s a novel and doesn’t seem like it has a message—I think we really need to believe in the fact that we have an audience that’s waiting for our book. If it’s inside you and it needs to be birthed, then get it done.
What has been the feedback from clients and your community since publishing?
It’s been amazingly positive. I have not had one negative comment. The thing that I hear the most is when people to me, “Your book has changed my life.” And I hear that frequently from the loved ones of people with addictions—that my book has changed their lives and that’s why I wrote it. So this is amazing to hear—it’s very heart-warming for me every time I hear that. It’s very powerful.
How has your book affected or changed your business?
It has so exponentially affected my business! My caseload is almost always full. I’m getting calls and emails nearly every day, especially from loved ones but also from addicts—people who are struggling with their addictions. They have either seen my website or they’ve read my book and they’ve decided that I’m the one they want to work with. And these requests come from all over the place—not just local. Most of my clients are local but I also do telephone and Skype counselling so I have clients in various parts of the world, and definitely across Canada. It wasn’t like that before the book came out.
How has publishing your book given you a bigger voice as an expert in your field?
I’m the go-to person now in Vancouver for loved ones and I’m a go-to person for the addiction field. I get referrals from other therapists who aren’t quite sure how to counsel loved ones of people with addictions. I also get calls from radio and television reporters for interviews.
How/where did you publish?
Why did you choose this route?
There are a few reasons. One is that I wanted to have complete control over my book. I wanted to be able to use the title I wanted, I wanted the cover to look the way I want it to look, I want the layout to be the way I want it to be. I wanted control over my book and I also wanted my book to get published as soon as possible. I didn’t want to have to wait to find a publisher—I could find a publisher and it still wouldn’t be published for another year. I just wanted it out as soon as possible. I wanted artistic control and to get it out there soon.
Were there any obstacles along the way?
Yes. There still are. There’s been a stigma attached to self-published books. That’s beginning to change, which I’m really happy about. It was a little difficult to get my book into some of the bookstores here in Vancouver and it’s not in bookstore chains yet.
I don’t think [traditional] publishers do book marketing any more, but the marketing of the book has been an obstacle just in terms of knowing how to market it. What do we do to get the word out there, how do we let the people who need to hear about the book know that it’s there? It can be time consuming if you have a busy full-time practice. Yes, there have been some obstacles but I still think it was the right decision for me.
Do you have any suggestions for others considering self-publishing for the first time?
Get somebody to help you who knows what she’s doing, like a Certified Author’s Assistant.
What is the best advice you can offer authors-in-waiting?
Keep going. Don’t give up. Just write your book and keep going and if you’re discouraged talk to somebody about that. If you’re frustrated, talk to somebody about that but keep going. Do the inner work it takes to write your book.