top of page


Updated: Mar 6

Monday was Family Day in Alberta and in many other provinces in Canada. This is our fifth Family Day since our son, Tom passed away.

As a parent who has lost a child to suicide, Family Day has a different meaning. You look back at past memories and are thankful for the happy ones. Your heart aches for those who are also experiencing an empty place in their home because of mental illness and loss.

As a co-founder and spokesperson for SILA Skills, I talk about our son Tom every time I share DBT skills. I tell people that it's like a gift wrapped in barbed wire. If Tom hadn't been ill and we hadn't been so desperate for help, we would never have learned about DBT skills. I will forever be thankful that we were introduced to them five years ago. They gave us peace in our home for the first time in years.

I am thankful that I have these skills to continue being the kind of mom, wife and grandma that my little family needs.

I sometimes ask my husband and my daughter if skills have changed me and they always say yes. They comment that I'm not as emotional as I used to be and I'm not as easily offended. I'm not perfect by any means and there are still moments when I struggle, but the skills give me the ability for 'do overs'. And for that I am forever grateful.

So for this Family Day 2023, I encourage you to put down the phone and shut off the TV and pull out a board game or just sit and talk. Family is the greatest gift we will ever have. I'm thankful that there is a day in Canada that is set aside for it.

7 views0 comments

What makes your heart happy? This picture was taken during the Christmas break. My son-in-law, who had moved his little family to Alberta from BC in August, decided to put a rink in their backyard. Watching my 6-year-old grandson zoom around on this ice and knowing his dad had put in hours of work for this moment definitely makes my heart happy.

What makes your heart happy?

Teaching and talking about DBT-informed skills also makes my heart happy. This month I'm speaking and sharing about these skills at six different Teachers' Conventions in Alberta.

So far, I have interacted with different educators and leaders who are truly caring professionals. They are pushing through even when the challenges that are around them are overwhelming. I respect them and enjoy sharing the hope I have found that learning these skills has brought me.

Educators are pushing through...

It's interesting how different life is with these skills. Years ago I would be dreading Valentine's Day. I have been married for over 30 years and I love my husband to pieces AND he struggles with remembering any of these kind of special days. Prior to learning skills, I always wished that he would plan something romantic knowing that he probably wouldn't. I would be wondering if I should plan something but then knowing it would disappoint him because it looked like he was not doing his best. It's such a 'funny' day this Valentine's Day. Now, I use relationship mindfulness and enjoy the moments we have. My marriage is so much better when I'm skillful.

My marriage is much better with skills

These DBT-informed skills have helped me show my husband and my daughter and my son-in-law and my grandson how important they are and how I love them through my skillful actions. These actions are all intentional. And they have given me the ability to live the serenity prayer. I am able to accept the things I cannot change. Life is not easy and for some of us it's really hard. These skills help.

So what makes your heart happy? And if your heart isn't happy today, do my words give you some hope that maybe learning something new could help? I hope so.

Do my words give you hope?

That is why I will always continue to talk about these skills.

Have a skill-filled day.

17 views0 comments

Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay

Are there places in your life that cause you to get lost in your emotions — fear, anger, sadness, anxiety?

I have experienced many different kinds of environments like that --- places where I was afraid to speak because I thought I would set someone off and I wouldn’t know how to handle their reaction. Places where I just wanted to hide because I was sure that my voice would cause reactions I didn’t want to deal with. There are other places where all I feel is anger whether it's because of how I am treated or how I perceive others are treated. There are other places where I'm just sad. It seems hopeless to be there.

I would say that those experiences are all or mainly in the past.

Finding Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and learning how to approach my environment with emotional skills has changed everything.

There's an image I've seen in my DBT training called the Cycle of Change. We are all on it. Some of us look at these difficult environments and our fingers are pointed at everybody else. The truth is, the cycle of change is for us. Where do we fit on it?

image from

The first step is to recognize that the only person that we truly can change is ourselves.

That was a very difficult lesson for me to learn. At home, my interactions with my son were very hard. He struggled with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which caused me to walk on eggshells much of the day, worried that I would set him off. Once I learned the skills that we teach in SILA Skills workshops, I recognized that my relationship with him could be much better if I changed a little rather than always expecting him to be different.

In my classroom, I have also changed. I have often had students whose explosive emotions I have feared. I would avoid their corner of the classroom just to keep from triggering them. I've had parents that I avoided contacting, even though I know I should send an email or pick up the phone. The truth is, the better I interact with those people or situations that I fear, the fewer challenges there are. I have learned to be compassionately curious and focus on their story, rather than my own.

I have learned to be compassionately curious and focus on their story, rather than my own.

This has also occurred with my colleagues. There are times I've wanted to hide and have felt inadequate in expressing myself in difficult conversations. To avoid any confrontations I would often go into my classroom and shut the door. Not a very effective strategy!

I'm learning that it's better to practice my skills. One of which is using opposite action — making a choice to act in a way that is opposite to how you feel. This skill helps me to respond to my fears rather than to hide.

Now, I finish my days without feeling regret. I can sleep better because I know I did my best and was as skillful as I could be. Sometimes people seek me out to talk about their day. I think it’s because I am able to approach situations mindfully and am effective which helps me foster positive relationships at my work. I have learned that hiding is not effective.

I could go on and on as I have struggled with both student and adult relationships. It's not easy living in this world and interacting with different people. We suffer a lot and it doesn't have to be that way.

We suffer a lot and it doesn't have to be that way.

Four years ago I started learning DBT skills and I have been trying to practice them every day.

They have changed my life.

They have given me hope and peace and the ability to be the person I've always wanted to be. They have given me relationship tools so I don't need to hide or respond in anger or walk on eggshells. I'm not perfect, but I'm a lot better than I used to be.

These skills work.

If any of my words connect with you, I encourage you to look at the cycle of change. Where are you on it? If you see that you need to change, you’re on the right track. You can start by attending a SILA Skills workshop and learn about these transformative skills. They will help you move towards growth in how you communicate more effectively with those in your environment. I know taking a SILA Skills Workshop will make a difference in your life.

You can be the change factor in your environment.

So the question is, to change or not to change?

The answer is up to you.

Are you ready to be transformed? Check out a Transforming Classrooms or Transforming Connections workshop today -

42 views0 comments
bottom of page